Anti-Road protesters occupy Dept of Transport

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Parklife DfT occupation


Today, the Department of Transport was targetted for the first time in about a year by anti-roads protesters.

Tuesday 16th August was an incredible day for our little campaign group from Southend on Sea. As some of you may now be aware we staged the latest in our series of 'Save Priory Park!' direct actions today, for the first time yet with the chosen venue being in the centre of London.

At 10.40am Tuesday morning, a small team of activists from the group, tailed by a London Tonight film crew and independent videographers, entered the Department for Transport (DfT) main office lobby on Marsham Street, locking down for an inside occupation that ran into the early afternoon.

The DfT is due to make a decision regarding funding for the F5 road scheme imminently, so we took action to draw media and public attention to the decision makers, to try to influence the process, and to show that the people of our town - plus our great friends from further afield - feel strongly enough to take direct action as need be to stop the road.

In conjunction with the inside team, who deployed handcuffs and lock on equipment to stay in position, a larger group unfurled two 12' banners outside the entrance, in addition to posters depicting finds from the threatened East Saxon king's burial site. This enabled us to maintain public engagement throughout the event, as the access doors to the DfT were
promptly locked after our arrival.

Negotiations ensued, with the office being unwilling to speak to the inside team, unless we first took the decision to leave the building. Our stance was agreed to be that we would only unlock if a senior representative from the DfT spoke to us in person, otherwise we would have to be forcibly removed by the authorities.

Eventually after a polite stand off that lasted for over two hours, the Metropolitan Police were called and we were given one final opportunity to go at around 1.00pm. We were then ejected from the building, whilst still being locked together as we had been for the duration of the event.

Although being threatened with various possible charges including a breach of the peace - even after our forced relocation outside - we chose to stay and continue the protest to maximise our impact, with lunchtime office workers taking much interest in the proceedings. Surprisingly for us, and in light of all of the above, no arrests were made.

Looking back for once, we have come a long way since we formed Parklife in June 2001. We have shown yet again that local people can empower themselves, by taking action to stand up for what they believe in. We remain a single issue and highly focused campaign/action group, but at the same time we hope that people will say, 'If they can do it then we can!'

Parklife video 6mins (6.6mb mpeg4 version) -
A short sequence of clips from tuesdays action at the department of transport. 2 mins 4 mb -