14
Jul
2005

POLICE TURN OUT IN FORCE IN WINCHESTER

From Karen Barratt

See below my press release from a couple of days ago which will give you a flavour of how things were. The mast was finally erected yesterday (see photo of the process).
//www.omega-news.info/mast_up_day_2_3_024.jpg

So after four and half years of resistence we are now in the same boat as many of our fellow campaigners. I feel rather like the Queen Mother when the palace took a hit in the blitz and she said she could "look Eastenders in the face." The mast isn't operational yet and I'm planning to do a 24 hour vigil on the site next week - the fifth and final one. I want to see how much support is left in the community for a second phase - to find a way of getting the thing removed. I'm feeling pessimistic at the moment. Some of the residents are more worried about posters than the mast but we'll see.

If you can visit the vigil at ANY TIME during the day or night please do. If you live too far away just send a message of support.

I'll be on the site at the top of Byron Avenue, Winchester Hants SO22 5AT from

NOON WEDNESDAY 20 JULY until NOON THURSDAY 21 JULY.

Thanks



Press release 12 July 2005

POLICE TURN OUT IN FORCE IN WINCHESTER

The long-running Byron Avenue phone mast reached a dramatic climax yesterday when contractors arrived to erect the 12-metre mast in the leafy Winchester cul-de-sac. Residents, who have resisted telecom Orange for four and a half years, were shocked when heavy vehicles roared up the road accompanied by police. “At one point there were twelve police officers,” said campaigner Karen Barratt. “They even had a minibus parked outside the school.” Residents say that such a heavy presence, presumably to protect Orange contractors against elderly residents and primary school children, was extraordinary given the demands being made on the force in the wake of the London bombings.

Campaigners, who sat on the site while a security fence was erected eventually left after being threatened with arrest. “I feel sorry for the police in this situation,” said Karen Barratt. “They would prefer to be getting on with their proper job of catching criminals but they have to follow orders from higher up. These days policy is more in favour of looking after big companies than protecting communities.”

Orange took the decision to go ahead after Hampshire County Council refused to extinguish highway rights, which would have allowed residents to take control of the tiny patch of land they have looked after for over thirty years. “We were appalled by HCC’s decision,” said Caroline St. Leger Davey. “They also promised to tell us the date when the mast erection would take place but did not do so. In fact they didn’t notify anyone - not even the school. It’s been a terrible shock to us all.”

The mast erection is likely to be completed today but given the twists and turns in the Byron Avenue saga so far, nobody is betting on this being the end of the story. Watch this space.
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