Disenchanted squatters who converted a condemned building into a community centre have won a court battle against the local council, allowing their self styled “Pleb’s College” to continue.
Once an abandoned industrial site in East Oxford, Plebs College had offered free services to local squatters and the wider community in spite of on-going pressure from Thames Valley police.
But the College has now won the right to remain open and founder Tom White, a Maths graduate from Oxford University, is ecstatic.
“Just a quick update to pass on the good news. Pleb’s College was in court this morning to decide if and when it will be evicted. The Judge was very sympathetic and acknowledged the “reasonable” nature of the people and the use of the space being respectful to the community. He said he had to grant the possession order but has given Pleb’s College another couple of weeks of life. Following this there will be a discussion about what steps to take next in the coming days so keep posted for more updates!” the Pleb’s authorities posted on their blog.
Posters bearing the slogan “Resist Eviction,” were adorned on phone booths and bus shelter windows across Cowley Road and had incited public support for the squatters who will now continue to offer services including a library and free accommodation.
Oxford students’ reactions to the founding of an alternative college were generally positive. One 2nd year Classicist considered the project “a noble and admirable one” that would “no doubt improve local community provisions.” Another 2nd year praised the work of Pleb’s as “some fairly anodyne rebellion on their part, that should benefit the image of Oxford.”
“It’s good to hear the courts have ruled that this harmless community project can stay,” he added.
One nearby resident was unconcerned by the project: “It looks pretty harmless to me, and they’re using that space to help the community in some ways. So it doesn’t bother me.”