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[the following article appeared in the local press in 1971]

Hippies may have to leave island home by court order

RICHMOND UPON THAMES COUNCIL wants to close down the Eel Pie Island Hotel - the home of Britain's biggest hippy commune.

The social services committeee after considering reports from Dr. A. M. Nelson, the medical officer of Health has decided that the hotel is "unfit for human habitation". And it intends making a closing or demolition order on the building.

But the hotel's owner, Kingston businessman, Michael Snapper, said that "to pull the hotel down round the hippies ears would be viciousness."

He has been approached by a welfare worker helping the commune and had promised to let them stay on the island until the winter is over.

Mr. Snapper said, "I have been convinced that to turn them off now would create too much hardship. Conditions at the hotel may not be perfect, but at least they've got a dry roof over their head."

Mr Snapper, who wants to redevelop the site and is applying for planning permission to build houses on the island - added, "Many of these people have nowhere to go. They have promised me that if I let them stay for the next six months, they will go quietly."

The net of society has been closing round the hippies for months.They stopped paying rent, rates or electricity bills. Now their electricity supply has been cut and Richmond Upon Thames Council is threatening court action to get the rate money.

The local social service department has refused to pay the commune members any national assistance and the NSPCC were called in to investigate conditions.

In fact, the NSPCC inspector's report showed that, although the hotel was in a dilapidated state, the children on the island were happy, healthy and well-cared for.

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article from Dave King
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revised 24 October 2005