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(en) Freedom 6318 21st Sep. 2002 - Can't see the wood for the planks

From FreedomCopy@aol.com
Date Fri, 27 Sep 2002 23:26:42 -0400 (EDT)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

Police have been accused of a "massive and costly
over-response" to a peaceful event staged by Titnore Woods
campaigners in Durrington on Sunday 1st September. Fifty
people who gathered to hand a symbolic scroll to the
landowner who's selling the land were amazed to find a huge
police operation had been launched.
Sussex Police riot vans were parked in every layby for miles
along the A27 road, 'evidence-gatherers' wielding video
cameras were hiding in roadside bushes and metal
barricades had been erected around the pub where protesters
were meeting.
Clement Somerset, whose family owns the land at Titnore
where a massive new housing estate is proposed, failed to
turn up at the Coach and Horses in Arundel Road to meet
the campaigners, as he'd earlier promised to do.
And when the group did start strolling up the public right of
way to the Somerset family's Holt Farm, just north of the
A27, their way was blocked with a thick line of police riot
vans. Another van and reinforcements were seen lurking by
the farmhouse. They were informed by the police that
Section 42 emergency powers had been invoked, and anyone
continuing along the footpath would be arrested.
Eventually Somerset arrived on the scene, accepted the
scroll and engaged in a brief, polite debate with the
delegation about his status as a friend of the countryside and
the impending sale of the Titnore land to a consortium of
property developers, before the group dispersed back in the
direction of the pub.
One of the delegation said, "the presentation passed off
completely peacefully, as we always knew it would. We've
been amazed at how wrong the police have got this all along.
This was never even going to be a proper demonstration - it
was a gesture more than anything.
"While we were enjoying an excellent pint at the Coach and
Horses, we were all handed a leaflet explaining that the
policing of our Sunday excursion had been given a special
name - Operation HASP. It was suggested that this might
stand for Hysteria at Sussex Police. Someone in the force
must surely now be brought to book for launching this
massive and costly over-response."
Before the day itself, some local people had already had
direct experience of the police 'hysteria'. One local woman
found plainclothes police on her doorstep, asking who was
organising the event. At least five other people got
intimidating letters from the police by recorded delivery -
apparently on the basis that they'd attended the 350-strong
peaceful mass protest on 26th May.
A representative of local newsletter The Pork-bolter, which
was itself targeted by police for having publicised that event,
said "the campaign to save Titnore Woods has been
completely peaceful from the word go. The way the police
have tried to criminalise the campaign and frighten people
off attending events should be of great concern to anyone
who cares about a democratic society.
"It would be interesting to know how much Operation
HASP cost and in whose interests it was launched." The
letter to Somerset urged him to reconsider his plans to sell
off the land for housing and instead hand it over to a trust to
be preserved as a natural habitat.
A petition was due to be handed to the Mayor of Worthing
outside the Town Hall on 19th September at 4pm.
Worthing Eco-Action

To contact Worthing Eco-Action, email worthing@
For developments at Titnore Woods read The Pork-bolter,
Worthing's monthly newsheet, available for stamps from PO
Box 4144, Worthing BN14 7NZ

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