Campaigning squatters have taken over a Grade II listed pub that has been derelict for three years in an attempt to get it re-opened for the community.

The squatters, who moved in on Sunday, are hoping to agree a deal with Spirit Pub Company, which owns The Doctor Johnson pub in Longwood Gardens, Barkingside.

Police attended the pub this morning when security firm Clearway were alerted to the squatters, but they were allowed to stay as it is legal to squat in a commercial property.

Squatter 'Gee', 41, said he represents a group called Suspenses Property Guardians and is living in the pub with three other men.

He said: “We keep an eye on derelict and disused buildings and take over them if they are being kept empty to the detriment of the community.

“It is a crime that this is unused, the facilities should be used by the community here. We plan on speaking to the owner to strike a deal and see if the community can use the facilities.

“Local people should be able to make decisions about these premises, it’s crazy it has been left like this for so long.

“The police were great this morning, they listened to our side of the story and that is all we can ask for.

“We promise to keep drugs out of the premises and to keep it clean. We want to be seen as the good guys here.”

Business owners said they welcomed something being done about the pub, which has been boarded up for three years.

Sharon May, 53, who runs cafe Freshly Made, opposite the pub, said she is disgusted at the state of the building.

She added: “It was quite a shock to see so many police there this morning.

"I have lived in the area for 28 years and had this business for three months. It is disgusting and we have to see it every day.

“It is a real eyesore and monstrosity for the area.

"There are beautiful houses in Longwood Gardens and we would like to see something done about the pub as it ruins the area.”

Stacey Ismael, 44, owner of pet shop Paw Fect, said: “It has been vacant for so long now and from a business point of view it is not nice for customers to see it just decaying.

“It would be much better for the area if it was used for something.”

Spirit Pub Company has been contacted for comment on their intentions.