mardi 25 février 2014
The gang had carpeted it, put a double bed in the urinal space and tapped into the electricity to run a fridge, cooker, microwave and home entertainment system.
Last night council bosses said the discovery in Edgware, north-west London, was more evidence of how migration from eastern Europe was placing severe pressure on public housing.
Harrow Council leader Susan Hall said: “This was a public convenience but it was not meant to be quite that convenient for the squatters who evidently turned it into a one-bedroom flat.
“This shows the pressures of eastern European migration are rippling out into suburbia.
“People may be desperate to resort to these measures, but this is a building the council needs to sell to put money into services.
“The taxpayer is going to be left spending more than a penny to repair the damage done at this site.”
Since border restrictions were lifted on January 1, thousands of Romanians and Bulgarians are believed to have entered the UK in search of work.
The Home Office has refused to confirm the exact number for the first month and said that official figures will be released later in the year.
But their arrival is already having an effect on communities, with hundreds renting mattresses in outbuildings from rogue landlords – so-called “beds-in-sheds” – for as little as £50 a week.
Those living and working near the toilet – which had been closed for 10 years – said they were unaware it was a makeshift shelter for more than a fortnight.
The squatters were discovered by a council officer who visited the block ahead of its auction on Thursday. Once their cover was blown, the men left and abandoned their possessions.
Inside, investigators found rolls of industrial cable and receipts for copper wire sold for cash. No passports were discovered but paperwork “suggested the men were from Romania”, a council source said.
The squatters had rigged up a TV aerial and washing lines in the gents. One cubicle was used as a storage cupboard while the other was kept as a toilet.
A makeshift shelf running the length of the men’s convenience was home to a laptop, a DVD box set of Rich Man, Poor Man and a sewing machine.
The block, which is being auctioned with a guide price of £300,000, has now been boarded up and made secure.
Pharmacy assistant Nilam Morjaria, 60, said: “It’s shocking to think they are so desperate they want to live in toilets. It shouldn’t have been left empty and boarded up so long. It should either have been torn down or sold sooner.”
One resident, who did not want to be named, said: “The toilet is not being used so it’s better than druggies shooting up in there.
“There are so many empty buildings in London that are just sitting there – houses rich people have bought and are waiting for the prices to rise until they can sell them.
“They have come here for a better life but look what they have got – they’ve resorted to living in a public toilet. They’re not squatting there because they want to.”