Police threat halts Portishead farm sell-off protest

Zardoz tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Thu Mar 4 14:02:38 GMT 2010

Prosecution threat forces farm sell-off protesters to call off march
Thursday, March 04, 2010

A public march to protest at plans to sell off one of Portishead's remaining High Street farms has been cancelled – after police warned organisers they could be prosecuted if it went ahead.
Mum-of-two Rita Baker, 37, had organised the march for this Saturday to protest at plans by Bristol City Council to sell off Court House Farm.
But the protest had to be cancelled because a road closure order was not applied for and, as police had not been given six days written notice, they said it was unlawful.
Mrs Baker claimed she was warned that if the march went ahead she risked arrest.
She initially contacted police on February 27 and spoke to an officer at headquarters who asked her some questions and told her someone would be in touch if the march was going to pose a problem.
But it was not until Tuesday that she received a call from North Somerset Police Sector Inspector Jon Owen saying the march had to be cancelled.
The news came as a huge blow to Mrs Baker, who has spent the last several weeks mounting the campaign to stop the historic farm going to auction in May.
Mrs Baker has been told she now has to contact all those due to attend the march to tell them it is cancelled.
She said: "I am very disappointed and saddened that it has come to this.
The march is now being replaced by a rally at the precinct in the High Street at 11am.
Inspector Owen said: "The police's role is to facilitate lawful protests.
"There will now be a static protest on Saturday which we are happy to accommodate and a small number of officers will be on hand to assist the organisers."

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