Saturday, September 09, 2006

No lorries, one arrest, two protesters and three police cars: Saturday morning at Hafod Quarry

Two protesters blockaded the gates of Hafod Quarry this morning, 9th September, arriving at around 9.30am and tying a large LANDFILL STINKS! banner to the fence. Apparently, no dumping is taking place today; instead work is being done on the site ready for more tipping next week. Here is the protesters’ account:

As we arrived, two vehicles left the site, one pulled up to the stop sign at the road edge before turning, while the white van sailed out on the wrong side of the road with scant regard for road safety. If anything had been coming into the site, there could easily have been a head-on collision. Road safety at the site is a major conceern, as lorries hurtle in and out. Site approach road pictured below, showing van leaving on wrong side of road.

We tied our banner to the fence and the security guard came over to chat to us and to agree that landfill is unpleasant, although he felt that everyone working there was “just doing it to feed themselves and their families, and you wouldn’t want to see them starve, would you?” We pointed out that, while we understood that jobs are important to people, all the people who work at the landfill site and help Mersey Waste in any way are contributing to the poisoning of the local community. Same as people who work in bomb factories. We talked about some of the health risks and he seemed genuinely concerned about his own health and keen to go away and find out more.

Then one of the vehicles arrived back at the site. The two of us stood between the vehicle and the gate, with our “RECYCLE WASTE OR BURN IN HELL” placard. The security guard was quite upset. “He’s only gone out to get his butties. He’s just the electrician.”

“Even just the electrician is helping this site operate.”

The electrician got on his phone to the police...

Another car drew up at the gates to drive out of the site. The driver got out of his car to walk past our blockade and talk to the other driver. He left his keys in the ignition and the engine running.

“Please will you turn off your engine.” He replied with an obscenity. “Oh well, I’ll go and do it for him then.” One of us started to walk towards his car, which prompted a somewhat disproportionate response in our view.

“Stay away from my f***ing car or I’ll kill you. I mean it!”

“OK, just turn the engine off. You shouldn’t leave it running when you’re not in it. It’s dangerous and illegal.”

“What you’re doing is illegal. This is private property. F*** off.”

He raced past us and turned off the engine and removed the keys.

“Thank you. That’s all we were asking. There’s an oil crisis, you know.” We went back to standing in front of the other car. The eff off driver asked the security guard to open the other gate, which he did, leaving us rather a wide area to cover with two people, and we didn’t trust this guy not to mow us down so we let him past. The security guard shut the other side of the gate again and the electrician stayed in his car behind our blockade, obviously looking forward to the police arriving and sorting us out.

After another ten minutes or so, the police had still not arrived and we wanted to have a wander round the perimeter of the site, so we packed up our banner and placard, waved the electrician into the site in a friendly manner, and set off on foot along the road. As we did so the police arrived. They spoke with the guys at the gate, then came after us up the road. The policeman (pictured rather hazily below) seemed to have forgotten his helmet.

“Please stay on the pavement. Can we talk to you for a minute?”

“We weren’t planning to leave the pavement.”

The first police officer was trying to be very nice and reasonable. He explained that there had been a complaint made of attempted theft of keys from a car at the quarry and that one of us was the alleged perpetrator. We explained what had happened. The police said that the driver could do what he liked on private property. I said I still felt it was dangerous and damaging to the environment, but in any event I had no intention of stealing this man's keys or his car or anything else – I was only concerned to switch off the engine, and as soon as he'd started to come over to do it himself, I'd stopped. The police officer said that alleged victim of the alleged attempted theft wasn’t actually at the site at that moment – his mates were trying to contact him – and in the meantime the police officer just needed a few details from us.

“Are you going to arrest me?”

“No, that won't be necessary," then, after some more discussion. "I'll let you carry on then, but I'll just take your name and details.”

“Well, as you know, I don’t have to give those unless you arrest me.”

“I don’t want to arrest you. It’s not necessary. Just give me your details and then you can go.”

He went off a little way to consult on his cancer-inducing Tetra police radio. The WPC with him, who was much more aggressive, continued the conversation with comments like:
“If you won’t give your details, we’ll just have you locked up.” I pointed out that the first police officer had just told me that he wasn't going to arrest me. "That was if you give him your details."

"That's not what he said. Now he's going to arrest me because I won't give my details, but a second ago he said he didn't need to arrest me."

She went ballistic when one of us decided to take some photos of the scene while we were waiting for the first officer to get advice from above. I get really fed up with police cameras filming gratuitously at demos, so although I felt sympathetic towards her argument that I was infringing her human rights by taking her picture, I didn’t feel inclined to delete it from the camera. The police must have miles of footage of us doing harmless things like walking along roads and holding banners. She continued to shout at us until her colleague returned and announced that I would after all be arrested for alleged attempted theft. There was a scurrilous suggestion that we were intent on "becoming martyrs" for the quarry cause. We chuckled. If we'd wanted to martyr ourselves, we certainly wouldn't have done it by trying to turn off a car engine. Anyway, it was a sunny day. We wanted to be out in the hills by lunchtime.

Just at the moment of the arrest, a member of the Hafod Environmental Group happened to pass by in her car. She stopped. The police cars were already blocking one lane of this narrow road. Now both directions were blocked. We tried to explain what was happening while the WPC continued to shout, this time about the road being blocked. The car was moved on, I was cautioned and we blocked the road some more while we discussed what I could hand over before being thrown in the cells. I passed over my bag but still had the camera round my neck, so once I'd been shoved into the car the police woman came over and screamed some more about her picture. "She hasn't deleted it! It's still on her camera phone."

"I don't have a mobile phone; it's a camera." She was by this time getting dangerously angry. It isn’t my camera and I was worried about it being trashed, so I eventually offered to delete the offending picture, a silhouette of the WPC and my mate chatting. This took a while with the car door open and the road still blocked, while I carefully explained each stage of the deletion process and checked that the WPC could see that the picture was indeed being deleted.

I was then driven back to the site gates where a third police car had now arrived and where the victim of the alleged crime had turned up shaking his head. He didn’t want to make a complaint after all, so after some hanging around and discussion, and after I gave my name and address as required once arrested, I was de-arrested and allowed to go.

If things carry on like this, they’re going to need to bring in police reinforcements from other forces on double time to keep the quarry open. Three police vehicles called to the scene to deal with two protesters is a lot of resources.

So, p
lease take your protests down there whenever you can, even if it’s only two or three people for a short time. You don't need to get yourselves arrested! Whatever you can contribute will all add up to help stop this illegal dumping.


At Saturday, September 09, 2006 1:46:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big respect... see you there on Monday morning 9am - the Bala posse will be there all day.

At Sunday, September 10, 2006 12:27:00 PM, Blogger Wrexham AFC said...

take their photo's and know your rights

print it out and hand it to the protestors, take the police officers collar numbers and make a complaint as it creates even more paperwork for them

when you make a complaint get a reference number and don't be fobbed off

Use mobile phones to record conversations withpolice/officials it makes them nervous and puts them under pressure

Good luck

At Tuesday, September 12, 2006 3:26:00 PM, Blogger Rhys Wynne said...

That WPC sounds like a bit of a nut, just the sort of person the force needs to keep the peace. :-(

Good luck with the protest

At Tuesday, September 12, 2006 5:31:00 PM, Blogger Tom Parsons said...

Police officers like the WPC, in my view, just are control freaks. That's why they join the force.

Keep fighting the rubbish barons!

At Thursday, September 21, 2006 7:48:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pull the other one! You try to make yourselves sound so innocent, and that you were ALWAYS in the right. I've never heard such nonsense. I'm pretty sure the WPC had a pefectly good reson to react the way she did. Control freak or not! Get off your high horse, get youself a life, and do your best to enjoy it, instead of fighting for a lost cause. I've dealt with many protesters over the years. (comes with the job), and some have been peaceful, and there just to show some support. but your type are worst. You all go on about safety, and the environment. but it's you who are putting people in danger by getting in the way of vehicles etc, and if you had got out of the way in the first place, engines wouldn't need to be running for so long.
Don't forget to wash under your fingernails, and behind your ears when your next annual bath comes along. B

At Thursday, October 05, 2006 7:37:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Give up. Winter is coming so the early risers while dwindle away and the hole is filling fast.
Face it. You lose.
Meanwhile, a lot of people have jobs to go to so just stay in watching Phil & Fern

At Thursday, October 05, 2006 7:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The people on the early-morning picket deserve a medal for keeping this issue alive. Many of them DO go off to do a day's work afterwards too.
People like the previous poster are either working in the Hafod or a Labour politician ;-)

At Sunday, October 08, 2006 9:48:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not a Labour politician and I don't work in the landfill as it should be called.
I would just like to know where you have all been for the last 10 years? Liverpool, Cheshire, Shropshire and loads more besides have been tipping at Rosset and Pen-Y-Bont but where have the protests been?
You couldn't see it, it didn't affect you and you have all been sillent while your bins have been emptied on somebody elses doorstep.

At Sunday, October 08, 2006 10:52:00 PM, Blogger dafad ddu said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Sunday, October 08, 2006 10:54:00 PM, Blogger dafad ddu said...

Take a look here and you'll find the answer to the unfounded claim that we're all NIMBYs.

Some of us have been campaigning to recycle and reduce waste in Wrexham for a decade or more. Some of us were involved in the campaign to stop the incinerator, which would have "landfilled in the sky". Hafod has been opposed by people in Ruabon and Johnstown for more than a decade and some of those people have been fighting the other tips in the vicinity. Just because these campaigns have not had the publicity that Hafod has (recently) doesn't mean they weren't being fought.

At Wednesday, November 22, 2006 5:17:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From an ex-resident of Ruabon, I'm an ex-resident because Ruabon and it's surrounding areas fell into disarray and decline some twenty years ago when they started making every large property in the village into one bedroom dossholes. The general fabric of the area was destroyed then and a few skipfuls of rubbish just wouldn't make any difference!!

At Thursday, October 11, 2007 12:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The people who run this site are bigots. They delete posts that disagree with their point of view.


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