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Date: Sat, 5 Oct 2002 02:19:21 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Cliffe Airport proposal

Cliffe Airport - reports on Chatham protest march, 28 September 2002 (Kent, England)

pre-march report

"After weeks of planning and liaising with the oh so 'helpful' Medway police for tomorrow's March (Sat 28th), a police spokesman has announced that they will restrict the numbers marching to 1000, and anyone else who turns up will be, quote: "penned in to the Whiffen Ave car park for the two hours the March is expected to take". It is hoped that 15,000 will turn up for the march, so they plan to 'pen' 14,000 protesters!! Medway police say they 'have a duty to protect public safety' but if they go ahead with this plan they'll have a major riot on their hands. Protesters have already stated they are prepared to be arrested or go to prison if prevented from marching (if I dissappear after tomorrow you'll know where I'll be!)

Various local surveys have shown that between 80-90% of local people are against the airport proposal, so it's a fair bet that there will be a large number of elderly and/or disabled people among the protesters, as there has been at all the meetings held so far.

Police have arranged for parking on the Great Lines in Gillingham and people will then have to walk across the Lines to Chatham. Many people will have enough trouble walking the 2 hour march, let alone walking across rough, hilly ground from Gillingham - looks to me like another attempt to limit the numbers.

The nearest railway station, Chatham, is a 5 minute walk from the meeting point, and a bus station in the Pentagon shopping centre is opposite, so if anyone is planning to come that might be the way to do it - I don't trust the police to even keep the roads open to allow protesters through to the parking area.

If anyone can get to Chatham tomorrow please do - this is a great chance to show the government/police we will not be controlled in this despicable manner - we WILL have our say!"


post-march report

"Well, the police tactics worked - only about 2000 turned up for the march. The rest called off because, as they announced to the organisers, they 'didn't want to get into trouble'. One wonders just how much they want to save their homes!

The police also announced 2 days before the march that the organisers must provide 100 marshalls with flourescent jackets or the march would be cancelled. Well, they managed to get the jackets on loan from several local companies so that ploy didn't work. They obviously weren't expecting too many people on the march - they didn't close the roads, they just had us marching on one side of the one-way system round Chatham with traffic roaring past on the other side! Plenty of support from the drivers though.

The police have also been helped by unkown persons who have been going round taking down notices advertising the march and various meetings, and on the day of the meeting there had been signs put up on some of the main routes to the parking area stating that the march was off! We've got no idea who's doing it but they'll have a lot to answer for if the proposal goes ahead.

There's also rumours going round that the resident's campaign is breaking down and that the Chairperson has resigned - all totally untrue, the campaign is now stronger than ever!

I've suggested that the campaign website is more widely advertised in the local press so that people can check on the real state of play. As the chairperson says, we can sort of understand pro-airport people wanting to stop the march, but by trying to stop the meetings they are interfering with the public's democratic right to have their say as part of the planning process. Despicable! (Rugby airport campaigners take note, you could get saboteurs there too!)

Anyway, because of the problems with that march the Demonstration to London planned for 23 November has been postponed for now. It has been decided to hold the March in the spring when Essex, Gravesham and Dartford councils have got their act together and can join us. These councils have only recently heard about this proposal and they are all within a couple of minutes flying time of the airport! (Canvey Island in Essex is less that a mile away and they knew nothing about it!)

HOWEVER, something is being planned for the 23 Nov, details available hopefully by the end of this week.

Some of us still think we should be going to London before the end of the consultation period, so it has been suggested that we picket there instead. This is copied from the website at -

"Personally I think we must do something in London before the consultation period ends. Marching in the spring is all very well, but the decision will have already been made. We need to do something which can influence that decision. As we are indispute I believe that we can have up to 6 pickets with plackards before you are causing a public disorder. To have two contigents of six, one outside Downing Street, and the other outside the main gates of Parliament day in day out would say far more about how determined we are not to let the DfT, CBI, LCC have their way. We could also picket those offices. Obviously we would not have the same people there all the time. Perhaps a rota could be drawn up. I'd certainly volunteer to spend a few days there. If anyone knows of any legalities regarding what I have suggested could they please comment. Any help would be very greatfully received."

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