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Published in Brighton by Justice? - Brighton's Direct Action collective
Issue 105, Friday 31st January 1997SchNEWS training day - find out how to get involved Mon 3rd Feb @ the Justice? office - call for details
DIG THAT!Sheriff Sore After Seven Day Shafting
"It's the only way to get a voice these days. I feel if I had just written to my MP, would I
have achieved all this? Would you lot [the assembled media] all be here? I think not."
The last protester along the route of the A30 in Devon emerged from the tunnels at 8:45 p.m. last night after a week underground - setting a post-war eviction record.
Fairmile, the last of the three camps on the A30 route to be evicted, was established over two years ago (pre-dating Newbury) to block Britain's first private road from being built. Not only does it cover more countryside in Tarmac but it's also a symbolic starting point for a disastrous new government policy. Swampy, Animal and the now-famous moles didn't put the Earth first for the media to focus on their lifestyles, they did it to expose this scandal. So here are the facts:
In 1992 the Chancellor announced a private finance initiative which would give a new lease of life to the road building industry. The Design, Build, Finance, Operate (DBFO) scheme was announced. This meant that companies who build roads are not paid immediately, but instead after a 30 year period are given an undeclared amount based on pre-set shadow tolls. In other words the road builders get paid for each vehicle that uses their road. Responsibility is then given to the road builders to encourage motorists to use the road - flying in the face of the government's own admission that new roads create more traffic. This would be done by sign-posting and by encouraging development along the route. Devon County Council has already set aside land along the route for a new town with an expected population of 10,000, a technology park, a power station and an extension to an existing quarry, effectively extending the urban fringes of Exeter to the east by eight miles. This DBFO scheme, dubbed Destroy, Burn, Fell, Obliterate, is the first road of its kind (it's nearest cousin is the Channel Tunnel). It's a financial nightmare and one with a dubious safety record. The new roads programme means that safety and environmental protection are of little relevance to the private sector profit- making companies who are responsible for the construction of this and many other roads. And just to show they mean business, the Government chose this week to announce the widening (to dual- carriageway) of another section of the A30. European super-trunk route here we come.
The main problem facing bailiffs were the complex tunnels into which protesters have dug - "Built by gypsies with candles", as the Deputy Under-Sheriff put it on Thursday. Meanwhile police have been hassling tunneller's parents for information. But this has been countered by devious actions from activists determined not to let the forces of darkness get away with the abuse of the planet for profit. Last week the Under Sheriff and his men were woken at 4 a.m. by a hoax fire alarm and were forced to wait in the cold car park while the building was subject to an intense safety inspection. Another group of activists targeted Balfour Beatty, the company who are building the road, by climbing a crane opposite Parliament owned by the company and unfurling a banner saying "Privatised Vandalism - stop DBFO roads. We Love You Fairmile!" The crane was held for most of the day, and all the crane's occupants were arrested for offences including Aggravated Trespass.
The demands made by the protesters include: removal of harsh bail conditions; secrecy behind DBFO schemes be dropped; and what's left of the beautiful site is preserved until an unbiased & open public inquiry looking at all secret information surrounding the scheme.
SMUG SELF-CONGRATULATORY BASTARD OF THE WEEK
"We'll have them out in 24 hours ... I think you'd call it a hat-trick"
Employed by the High Court, Under-sheriff Coleman has the satisfying job of evicting travellers and gypsies. Usually a solicitor, this man has been hassling people in his spare-time for the past seven years. Now he has finally come up against a group of individuals organised enough to keep his bailiffs from taking control of any land. If you would like to have a friendly chat with the Under Sheriff call his office on 01392 436244.
Reclaim the Coast
On 15th Feb '96, heading for the Texaco refinery at Milford Haven in Wales, the Sea Empress oil tanker ran aground off Pembrokeshire, spilling 72,000 tonnes of crude oil.
14th-16th Feb sees actions to mark the anniversary - and the oil industry's cover-up. Milford Haven Port Authority cut back on safety procedures, whilst Texaco squeezed the tanker into the Haven at low tide to save money, then refused to pay any of the clean up costs. The same could happen again.
It's time to hit the earth rapists where it hurts. The UK economy depends on bleeding the Welsh coast dry. Most of the coast is a "Special Area of Conservation" (Europe's highest conservation legislation) but despite this, Texaco, Elf and Gulf all have refineries in Milford Haven. By October full-size oil rigs will be in operation. National Power are now planning to burn Oremulsion, "the worlds filthiest oil", at Pembrokeshire Power Station. The "fly ash" from burning is incredibly dangerous to the eco-system, and would be catastrophic in the event of a spill - Oremulsion does not float on the water surface.
The only way to stop another Sea Empress disaster is to shut down Milford Haven. Direct Action to save the Welsh environment is already established with the most high profile campaign being the one in response to the devastation from open-cast coal quarrying tearing across the valleys. A massive action is planned for the anniversary of the disaster on Sat 15th Feb. A safe camping space will be set up the day before. Arrive from noon, Feb 14th for briefing on the issues, safety at oil refineries, direct action training, legal briefings etc. There's also a crèche. Details (from 12th Feb): 01749 812665. Bring very warm clothes and bedding, and waterproofs. If you can't make it to Wales then target your local oil industry outlet. See SchNEWS in long for travel info.
2 years for no crime
Ejike Emenike, 30, is pastor of The Lord's Anointed Ministry, Lagos. He arrived in Britain last February after being beaten and held by Nigerian security forces for denouncing the government over the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and many other campaigners. Lying close to death in Rochester Prison, Kent, he has been on hunger strike since January 6th and refusing fluids since the 26th.
Although he has now agreed to start accepting rehydration treatment, another 5 refugees are also refusing all liquids, and a further 11 are still refusing food. A prison office spokes-person said, "We cannot force them to take any water if they have made a rational decision of refusal". Ahem, excuse us, but where does rationality come into it? The Home Office told us that a mere 1,295 asylum seekers (at refugee status) were granted entry into the country last year, and an estimated 750 refugees are placed in detention centres and jails each year - for committing no crime.
They come seeking refuge from military regimes and political persecution. The hunger strikers at Rochester come from Nigeria, Russia, Romania, Algeria and Somalia. They left their homelands in the face of persecution. They seek refuge in a country completely alien to them, traumatised and confused. It's ridiculous that the first thing any refugee would do is to confide in an official...yet one of the Asylum Bill's main provisions is to deport refugees back to their home country in circumstances where refugee status isn't sought immediately in the first country they reach.
These people have committed, and are accused of, no crime. Yet they are subject to strip searches, fingerprinting, and have no access to legal aid. There are long delays in processing their applications. Currently 60,000 detainees are awaiting decisions.
Despite Widdicombe's protestation, a spokes-man from the Church's Commission on Racial Justice said, "I consider the authorities to be responsible for these men, as there is no need for them to have been detained for this amount of time."
SchNEWS in Quite Long
Protesters at Manchester Airport objecting to the building of a second runway have squatted trees on the route of the new construction. They intend to broaden out direct action campaigning from roads to all transport issues. However, after spending six nights being camped 500 yards from Manchester's current runway, opponents have had enough of being kept awake by screaming planes and are applying to Manchester authorities for a grant to cover the cost of double glazing on their treetop homes. One activist said, "After a late night round the camp fire discussing alternative strategies for creating jobs in the region, the last thing I need is to be woken up at 6am by a jumbo jet."
The + Files
Well Health are still running their "Give & Take" stall at the local Thursday market at Conahs Quay in Flint, Clwyd. Everything on the stall is FREE; people bring what they don't need and take what they do. Simple! The stall is going great, but their main problem is storage and they are trying to raise money to fund a depot. So far they have raised £3000. Contact: "Sharing", 10 Corporation St., Flint, Clwyd, CH6 5PG.
Last week, in the continuing moral panic debate about ravers, ecstasy and all things associated with such devil worshipping, Barry Legg's Private Members Bill went through on the nod. The Bill will give police the power to shut down clubs immediately where they suspect drug taking or dealing is taking place. Supported by Leah Betts' parents, the Bill will apparently help save young people's lives. On its second reading it was unopposed, but still MPs waffled on and on. Why? Well, so they could waffle so long that they "talked out" the next scheduled debate - on the Cold Weather payments (Wind Chill Factor) Bill. Cold weather payments of £8.50 are issued when the average recorded temperature is freezing or below over a seven day period, but takes no account of the wind chill factor, which can make things feel a lot colder. Age Concern had hoped the legislation would have benefited nearly 2 million of the UK's poorest pensioners who face a deadly struggle with the cold every winter. It's estimated that winter weather kills up to 50,000 pensioners every year - rather more than any ecstasy tablet.
The SchNEWS warns all readers not to dig the notion of tunnels. Subterranean living for any length of time can leave you truly shafted, and Going Underground can get you in a real Jam. Stay away from probing Sheriffs, and ensure that your only contact with moles is with the ones infiltrating your meetings. Then you will feel soiled. Honest.
eco-trip party and gathering 8th Feb, 24 Porden Rd., Brixton 10pm onwards £6/£4. And the Anarchist Teapot are back in the area, Monday to Saturday 12 noon till 6 p.m., bottom of North Road.
Last updated 17 October 1997
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