Pair arrested for squatting in historic The Lamb inn, Romford

Squatters trashed a historic Romford inn within days of its closure earlier this month.

Two men were arrested on September 10 for living or intending to live in The Lamb, in Romford Market, having entered as trespassers. The arrests are believed to be the borough’s first under the new anti-squatting law, which came into force on September 1.

The men, aged 19 and 21 and both of no fixed abode, appeared at Barkingside Magistrates’ Court on September 11. Both pleaded not guilty.

They were remanded in custody and will be tried in November.

The Lamb closed its doors about three weeks ago after its management – which also runs The Drill pub – gave up the lease.

It was boarded up after the men were arrested. One staff member at The Drill said they had been living in the building “like animals”, leaving half-eaten food lying around and going to the toilet wherever they wanted.

The Lamb’s owner, Spirit Leased, said it planned to reopen the inn under temporary management in October, with the aim of finding someone to take over the lease on a longer-term basis as soon as possible.

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A Spirit Leased spokesman said: “The Lamb inn has been closed temporarily due to unforeseen circumstances and we would like to apologise to customers for any inconvenience this may have caused. The pub will reopen in approximately two weeks.

“We cannot comment on why it closed but we can confirm we have no plans to sell it and we are looking for individuals with pub experience interested in the business opportunity to contact Spirit Leased directly.”

The Lamb, which is a Grade II listed building and is situated in a conservation area, is believed to date from the 17th century. It was rebuilt after being destroyed by a fire in 1852, and also survived an 1888 flood when waters from the River Rom badly damaged the marketplace.

A council spokesman confirmed there had been no planning applications received for the pub.

Under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, the maximum penalty for squatting in a residential building is six months in prison and a �5,000 fine.

Campaigners say the law criminalises homelessness and could force vulnerable people onto the streets.