Cardiff: Squatters vs Keylet at the Bute Dock Hotel

On Tuesday 20th November we made our presence known to Keylet, owners of the Bute Dock Hotel and the largest estate agents (property racketeers) in Cardiff, that we had squatted their pub, on West Bute St, Cardiff Bay.

Two people from our welcoming committee of a dozen visited the executive offices at around 10am, located behind our hotel, to inform them of our occupation. Due to the layout of the building(s), which includes an inter-connecting corridor between the offices and hotel, it was effectively explained to them, with title plans and legal notice included. In summary which part of the building they still had possession of, and which part they had recently lost to us.

At first they were offered coffee by staff and greeted with their well-known false politeness, but when Peter (Viddy) Vidler, executive director of Keylet and chairman of the Association of Letting and Management Agents turned up, he had an epic tantrum. After ripping up the documents delivered regarding the occupation, he demanded the squatters left within two hours “or else”, and that the visitors left his office immediately, which they did, thanking staff for the delicious coffee.

Within half an hour, Viddy returned (still flustered) with a pack of meatheads from Specialist Security with intent to evict. As more arrived, a first attempt was made to enter, but after opening a padlocked plywood door, they were greeted by deadbolts, a locked mortis and yale, two squatters on the roof and supportive neighbours hanging out of their window. Intimidated by a legal observer filming, a local thug from Specialist snatched the camera, instigating a bit of a scuffle. The camera was eventually retrieved by its owner, after intervention from the welcoming committee.

After failing to gain access they retreated with threats of ‘Somali gangs’ turning up to evict us, which never surfaced – on that day. Police then arrived, who generally were confused by the legal situation, which was explained to them, eventually receiving confirmation from their superiors that the squat was in fact legal.

Viddy & co then pleaded for their belongings, focussing on the wealth of chairs stored, so squatters began generously passing them down from a 1st floor window, in the unfortunate pouring rain. After the first chair hit the ground, they changed their mind, due to lack of transport and alternative storage.

They came for the pub – they left with a chair.

Later the same evening we received a knock from a ‘Jimmy Two Shoes’, turned out to be Viddy with the West Bute St camera mugger. This time he pleaded for his belongings to be respected, during a rational discussion with us.

The next evening, a lone occupier awoke to the WBS camera mugger and someone with a metal pole coming up the stairs. After sufficient stalling collecting belongings, support turned up to find a served possession order (for a court date), cops, specialist security and individuals who identified as the Somali gang we were previously threatened with – employed via our friendly neighbours Keylet.

A distraction facilitated a squatter to climb up a drainpipe onto the roof, followed by another who let themselves in through a 1st floor window, upping the numbers inside to three. What followed was a negotiation with Viddy, where we threatened to prosecute (with sufficient evidence) over the unlawful break-in. He insisted it was ‘a mistake’, claiming he thought the hotel was no longer occupied. This resulted in him agreeing to leave, if we also did after court on Tuesday 27th November, calling off specialist security and the aforementioned gang.

See communiqué for our views and intentions.
Score at half time: Squatters 2 Keylet 0

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