London squatters buy out closed Virgin Active Health Club

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A group of 26 squatters have been evicted after breaking into a former Virgin Active Health Club.

Witnesses said the group used the building’s spa facilities, including the sauna, steam room and showers.

It is also alleged that they staged an all night rave in the Wimbledon building in South West London.

Local conservative adviser Charlotte Chirico, second from left, posted a photo showing how squatters bent the bars on doors to make their way into the health club

Cllr Chirico said residents were concerned about the squatters at the former Virgin Active Gym

Cllr Chirico said residents were concerned about the squatters at the former Virgin Active Gym

Police requested antisocial behavior order on old gymnasium to force squatters

Police requested anti-social behavior order on old gymnasium to force squatters

The crowd forced their way into the property by levering the bars of a gate.

Several members of the group taunted the outraged locals, saying that they were enjoying all of the club’s facilities for free.

The Virgin Active club closed in December despite strong opposition from residents who signed a petition asking the company to reverse its decision.

Before its closure, the club had around 4,000 members who were told they could still use nearby clubs.

The recreation center was inaugurated almost 20 years ago.

Since the invasion, police have deployed a CCTV van outside the premises to keep him under constant surveillance.

MailOnline has contacted Virgin Active and Merton Council for comment.

Police have placed a mobile CCTV van outside the gymnasium to prevent the return of squatters

Police have placed a mobile CCTV van outside the gymnasium to prevent the return of squatters

Residents noticed the squatters inside the site after seeing the building's lights on at night.  The photo appears to show graffiti on the walls

Residents noticed the squatters inside the site after seeing the building’s lights on at night. The photo appears to show graffiti on the walls

A police mobile CCTV unit is parked outside the site of the old gymnasium, where squatters were seen

A police mobile CCTV unit is parked outside the site of the old gymnasium, where squatters were seen

A spokeswoman for the local council said: ‘Merton council is urgently working with police to evict the squatters who broke into the former Virgin Active at Battle Close in south Wimbledon and caused unrest in the region.

“A court order must be obtained from the district court within the next 24 hours and the police are already there.

“Security measures were in place, including 24-hour video surveillance, but those involved were always able to prevail.

“Once the squatters leave, the council will tighten security to prevent further break-ins, while the future of the site is still under consideration.

“The old gymnasium has been closed and secured since December, when Virgin Active decided to close the gymnasium and relinquish its lease. The keys were then handed over to the council which owns full ownership.

“Battle Close has been rejected as a potential site for the new Harris Wimbledon school by the Department of Education because the site is too small for a school and other future uses, including housing, are under consideration. “

Local councilor Charlie Chirico said: “I was talking to residents last night with my colleagues from the Trinity neighborhood, Councilor Abdul Latif and Conservative candidate Hayley Ormrod, who are pictured.

“Concerns were expressed about a rave with more than 100 participants, which allegedly took place over the weekend. As a result, we were informed that squatters had settled at this time. This has caused a great deal of anxiety among residents, who have raised concerns about public safety, especially those with young children and elderly relatives nearby.

“We have been in close contact with our local police and understand that a closure notice has been served, although we have yet to see any movement of people inside.

“Public safety is our number one priority right now. We also took the opportunity to speak directly with the squatters who informed us that they were a party of 26, ranging in age from 18-27.

“A man told us he was from north London and had moved in after the snow last week. As you can see in the photo, the squatters appeared to have entered through the interstice of the bars and made their way to the sauna and steam facilities, which I am told exist on the site. Indeed, we almost launched ourselves when we did not want to climb the bars!


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