SQUATTERS have moved into a town centre bar just weeks after it was announced the venue had been purchased by the owners of Adventure Island.

They were reported to have broken in to Clarence Yard, Clarence Street in Southend, yesterday morning, plastering windows with signs stating they have a right to live in an unoccupied non-residential building.

In the window, there is a sign from someone called Welsh Davies stating: "If you want to know how I acquired this property, head to my Youtube channel."

The occupation comes a little over a week after it was announced the bar had been sold to the Stockvale Group, owners of Adventure Island and the Sea Life Centre.

The company bought the venue after it was put on the market with a £1million price tag last August. Last month, the Echo reported executive chairman Phillip Miller’s plans to refurbish the interior of the building but no completion date or plans to reopen were set.

The squatters cited section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 which made an offence of squatting in a residential building.

It also created a legal defence of squatting in a non-residential building.

But squatters can be evicted if the leaseholder proves they are an intended occupier being blocked by trespassers.

Mr Miller said: “We have a proud record of supporting local homeless charities and I firmly believe that most folks on the street are very deserving of help.

“Regarding the illegal occupation of Clarence Yard, we will deal with the squatters in the best way possible. Naturally, I want the building back in Stockvale’s control quickly. At present we are working with the authorities to resolve the situation quickly and as sensitively as possible.”

Mark Flewitt, councillor for housing, said: “We do not advocate squatting in any form. It is a huge inconvenience and cost to those who own the property and there is no excuse for it. If they are homeless they should present themselves to the council and go through the proper channels.”