Homeless activists ‘seize’ Leicester’s oldest Medieval house

Squatters say they have seized Leicester’s oldest surviving house as part of a protest against homelessness.

A notice on the railings outside the historic building

A handful of members of an organisation called the Leicester Homelessness Party have been camped on Jubilee Square in the city centre since before Christmas.

Now they say they are moving their demonstration into the confines of the 15th Century Wygston’s House in the edge of the £4 million square – a short distance from where they have erected a camp of tents right outside the BBC Radio Leicester office.

The locks on the city council-owned Medieval property were filled with glue yesterday.

Notices were nailed to the doors and shutters of the building announcing the group’s intention to take occupancy of the building.


One of the padlocks on Wygston’s House

Lead protester James McLean insisted he did not know who had tampered with the locks but said he had put a heavy-duty motorbike chain around the main gates to secure them.

“We intend to squat in area outside the building,” he said. “We will be moving in tomorrow.

“We will stay until Central Government actually does something meaningful to help homeless people who are dying on the streets.”

Mr McLean said “persons unknown” had glued the locks.


James McLean outside Wygston’s HouseHe added: “This is an historic building bequeathed to the people of Leicester.

“The people of Leicester have a right to use it.

“We won’t be going inside but we will be putting up a shack inside the gates but we will be keeping the tents on the square.

“We have done this for out security.

“The homeless people sleeping here are still being threatened.

“We are being told our tents will be petrol-bombed while we sleep inside them.

“Leicester’s rich have their gated communities. Now Leicester’s homeless will have their own gated community.”

Wygston’s House in LeicesterMr McLean insisted there was a ‘groundswell of public support” for his actions.

However, the Mercury spoke to several members of the public passing through the area who felt the protest had gone too far.

John Francis, 60, from South Wigston said: “I think they have made their point but now they are in danger of just winding people up.

“Sympathy only goes so far.”

The city council has agreed to lease Wygston’s House to the owners of the nearby Taps bar.

It has been largely disused for years but the plan is to convert it into a restaurant bar.

Mr McLean, 38, is being prosecuted for trespass in relation to his current protest and is due to appear at Leicester County Court later this month.

He has also denied a charge of failing to comply with a police dispersal order in September in relation to a similar protest.

source: Leicester Mercury

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  1. It’s very condescending to say that homeless people are looking for or need sympathy.
    What homeless people need and want is housing.
    I might not think that leasing Wygston’s House for another (un-needed, and one among dozens already) restaurant and bar was an ill-thought idea, if the Council were to use the income from the lease to actually do something to provide housing for Leicester’s homeless population …. but they aren’t.
    The problem is, when central government can’t or won’t act on the national issue of homelessness and increasing homelessness, it’s then left to local authorities to do something. If LA’s can’t or wont, then it then is left to people to act.
    It’s time to stop ignoring the problem of people left to sleep rough. There’s more than enough empty property to house every homeless person in the UK.

  2. im homless I have ptsd and was to paranoid to stay in one place for more than a day or so and as I have no documents for housing I cant get a place to live im on the street I have c.o.p.d. I cant breath and though I have paid rent at a shared flat they say I have no residence I wished I could just have a place I have done a lot of work on my illness and can sort of get by I just cant belive I can be put on the street when I have done nothing wrong its not my fault I was paranoid and couldn’t settle im just so hurt I feel so badly treated 300+ years my family have been here and I am not a resident hows that then?

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