Stonehenge Diary 1988 – 1
STONEHENGE JUNE 1988 ‘DIARY OF OPERATIONS’
Alan Lodge TRAVELLERS AID TRUST FESTIVAL WELFARE SERVICES RELEASE
This diary refers to our activities in support of the travelling community and other festival goers attempts to gather at the Stonehenge Free Festival.
A couple of years earlier, at the now famous “Battle of the Beanfield” in 1985, the authorities had demonstrated the lengths that they were prepared to go in upholding the Civil Injunction that had been granted to prevent the gathering. These notes refer to our activities in the build up to the Summer Solstice events in June 1988. They are simply recounted here, to give an idea of the scale of work involved. Further, to demonstrate the activities of the Travellers Aid Trust, Festival Welfare Services and the Release Organisation. They are representative of efforts made to get help and assistance to such communities, that had felt there economy and lifestyle under such threat from the state and its agents.
Friday 3rd June 1988.
Leave Caersws, Mid-Wales to go to BBC Bristol Studios to record interview on the issue of the writ on the Wiltshire Chief Constable re the civil actions from June 1985 (Beanfield). On to Trowbridge area.
Saturday 4th June.
Checked routes on the north side of Salisbury Plain: Trowbridge, Devizes – Westbury etc. Passed a number of vehicles travelling in different directions. Found people train buses and trucks in different lay-bys. They all said police had visited them on Friday night. Advised they were causing an obstruction and told to be moved by Saturday morning or face arrest. Nobody has any idea were they are going. Bristol walk left Castle Green bandstand at 12.00 noon. Found later on route. On to wick Quarry site (5 miles east of Bristol). Met the owner, Mr Ron Stainer. He is concerned about police not allowing vehicles off site without a rigorous check for road traffic offences. Thus, they continue to remain on his land. I spoke to police and they confirm this. Rendered first aid for an axe cut and a couple of burns. Stonehenge walkers arrive at Wick from Bristol, bandage feet: 7.00 pm. Convoy of 15 vehicles forms up to leave for Shepton Mallet. Ron Stainer and I go to police checkpoint as they leave site. The lead vehicle is stopped; other police arrive to interview drivers. I photograph the situation and an inspector calls police off. Vehicles now allowed to proceed (7.15pm).
Sunday 5th June.
11.00am. A convoy of 10 vehicle form up to go to Basingstoke. Again police allow vehicles pass while being photographed. Left Wick for Bath periodically with the Bristol walk. Arrive Rainbow woods, Coombe Down, Bath – destination of the walk. Stay night with Ron Stainer in Bath. Some hours exchanging info about T.A.T., F.W.S. and the Avon Travellers Support Group (of which he is secretary).
Monday 6th June.
Local shop at Wick village told Ron Stainer they were so impressed by people’s behaviour from the festival that they wanted to donate food. Again contacted Bristol walk still at Coombe Down, Bath to tell Ron of location of next stop. He will deliver. Went to Stonehenge. Met people who had been parked up in Salisbury off A36/Southarnpton Road. Told of two sites evicted at 1.00 pm today. Other vehicles noted just swilling about the area. Stayed with friends (Jane and Russ) at Berkley near Frome.
Tuesday 7th June.
Tom checked for vehicles as reported at Frome. No sign. Left Frome for Hanging Langford and district. A site was said to be established. Again no sign. Visited Stonehenge again since I was driving past. Drove to Didcot, Oxfordshire looking for Oxford walk. Didn’t find them.
Wednesday 8th June.
Found Oxford walk on the Ridgeway at Scutehammer Knock, 5 miles S.E. of Wantage. Phone Central T.V. Birmingham. Give background information to Ian Cooke re. their programme “Central weekend” discussing hippies. Confirm travel arrangements. Stayed night with Oxford walk on Ridgeway Nr. Letcombe Regis, Wantage.
Thursday 9th June.
From Wantage, on to site at Silchester nr. Reading. Heard of stories of eviction and shepherding operations of Oxford festival to Wick. Made initial contact with local police.
Friday, 10th June.
Recommended solicitors for two cases resulting from earlier arrests. Minor first aid cases. Contact made with Coventry and London walks now at Silchester. Met researcher from Central T.V. Eight people from the site invited to take part in the studio discussion later today. Go to friends (Jane) in Basingstoke. Collected by car 6.00pm and taken to Studios in Birmingham for programme on hippies – “Central Weekend” Broadcast live at l0.3Opm. Booked in at Holiday Inn, Birmingham!!
Saturday 11th June.
Return to Basingstoke and on to Silchester. Met Paul from Hay-on-Wye eviction some months earlier. Discuss? wrongful eviction under Public order act sect 39. Don and Penny arrive
Sunday 12th June.
Served with Public order paper requiring me to leave by 10.00am Monday. Don thinks it is lawful but I contact Tim Greene (of Birnbergs Solicitors). Section 39 papers were handed out by 20/30 police working in pairs across the site at about 10.00am. A police helicopter hovered overhead for 3/4 hour during operation. Dealt with minor injuries resulting from two separate motor cycle accidents. Loads of inquiries about Public order papers handed out on site by police.
Monday 13th June. Distributed lots of leaflets:- a.NCCL traveller advice. b. GLC Public Order leaflets. c.GLC Police complaint leaflet as people leave site. Advertised phone numbers of our Salisbury operations and home in Caersws. Contact’ made with a sergeant from Thames Valley Police and an Inspector from Hampshire. Well before l0.00am deadline people had been packing up to leave so was able to point out effort. Police stay out on the road not on site. 11.00am police helicopter returned. Now about 20 vehicle left. By loudspeaker from the air they were told to leave immediately or face arrest. I pointed out to police on the ground that it was unnecessary, as they were still packing and only inflamed an otherwise peaceful dispersal. My comments were relayed to seniors.’ Distributed some black plastic rubbish sacks. Was interviewed by:- a. T.V.S. b. The Times. c. Newbury local paper. (This lady is also a district councillor and was very sympathetic to traveller’s problems). Left site at l.30pm with some ten vehicles still on the field. Situation very restrained and under control. About 70 – 80 vehicles left field over the morning, in many different directions. Drove some distance around Silchester site looking for police reaction to dispersal. Visited alternative sites at Burghfield, Berkshire and Ashford Hill nr. Kingsclere, Hampshire. London walk on ‘Port way’ between site and Kingsclere. Travel to London to consult with other TAT trustees and to report back.
Tuesday 14th June. Left London down M3. Joined a convoy of 30 vehicles on A303 10 miles east of Andover (2.30 pm) 3 police motor cycles monitoring movements. (Much running out of fuel and garage stops). Pass Parkhouse roundabout (scene of past conflict / heart missed several beats here!) and on up the A303. Were not met by Wiltshire police until just outside Amesbury when one or the vehicles broke down between the Amesbury roundabout and the stones (4.00pm). One patrol car and later a panda car eventually arrive. Vehicles now shadowed by police helicopter as we now proceed down A303 and on to the A344 to Stonehenge. All vehicles now drive on to the northern by-way at Stonehenge (5.00pm) Two Police cars present to start with, this grows in a few minutes to 2 armoured Sherpa vans and 15 misc. police cars some 50 officers now present. Helicopter lands and picks up a senior rank (5.3Opm). Announcement made from the air that they are in contravention of an injunction in force there. Met Chief Inspector Bendry (Amesbury police) and Chief Supt. Oilman. They inform me they will be making arrests shortly if no movement is forthcoming, I ask for 10 minutes to explain to people present and to canvas views. To begin with, the group is divided between staying and being arrested or leaving. C.Supt Ilman makes towards his car to summon further assistance. This makes up more people’s minds to leave. Convoy leaves the by-way at about 6.00pm orderly and together with no arrests. Believed to heading for Ringwood, Hampshire. I follow convoy into Amesbury. Police monitoring all the time now. Looked for site at Little Langford nr. Railway line. No sign. Don in Salisbury suggests I visit site on the trackway near Yanbury Castle (A303). Again no sign. On down A36 south to Salisbury. Visited people in two lay-bys (8.00pm). Given out leaflets, phone numbers and advice. Heard about the site at Yanbury Castle (wot I couldn’t find!) Need legal advice on Possession Orders for the trackway, as public order may not apply. Later told that people went to Devils Ditch at Shipton Bellinger from Stonehenge, not Ringwood. Proceed to Salisbury for consultations.
Wednesday 15th June.
Phone call to Salisbury to say that the site at Devils’ Ditch had received 2 hours notice under public order law applying sections 12, 14 & 39. (11.30am) Drove to Devils’ Ditch with Margaret Greenfield. No Police Present (12.00pm) Shown Public Order paper, conditions:- a. Must disperse within 2 hours in groups of not more than 19 people on foot or 6 vehicles at a time. b. “That the groups will not join together on a highway in the County of Wiltshire.” People there put it to me that this would be their fourth eviction in two days since the Silchester site. They asked for time to sign-on, further to enable repairs and to buy fuel. Some vehicles cannot move for these reasons. (2.oopm) Met with Inspector Gerry Housen from Amesbury police and put above points to him. He says he is unable to negotiate on need of vehicles to move (now about 2 hours after issue of paper). He takes further advice by radio. Police present:- 2 PSU, 2 Landrovers and 10-20 foot officers. Spoke to people explaining inspector’s comments. In spite of lack of fuel, most vehicles leave this location by towing and share of fuel (3.00pm) Three vehicles unable to move while occupants away getting wheels fixed. Explained to police. Tension now much reduced. Vehicles move approx. 200 yards down track towards Shipton Bellinger village into Hampshire (Wiltshire police withdraw) Police inspector from Hampshire states that people will not be moved until 3.00pm tomorrow. MOD police present throughout incident as site is bordered by MOD land. MOD inspector shows us an OS map with their land marked. Back to Salisbury via lay-bys on A36. Went to sites on Southampton Road / A36 south out of Salisbury (8.00pm). One site with 5 vehicles and 3 benders has a possession order effective 12.00 noon tomorrow. Phil and Vince (‘Fight Truth Decay’) on 2nd site off A36. They are on land scheduled for redevelopment. With less than 12 vehicles on site they believe there is no immediate threat of eviction.
Thursday 16th June.
Left Salisbury offices for the sites off the A36 as above. (ll.30am) One of the two sites told to be evicted at 12.OOpm today. Stayed on other site until 2.ooprn. No sign of eviction (? possession order). Distributed leaflets and the phone numbers to more new arrivals. Proceed to Shipton Bellinger (2.3Opm). Hampshire police said to have given people until 3.00pm to move of the trackway they say they are obstructing. Spoke to Hampshire inspector (4.00pm) Re. when people are moving off. He instructed that they leave in two parts so that they are not a disruptive influence on the community. Site unable to come to a consensus about moving or not. Some people return from dole run in Andover. Some have money from SS but most do not. A lot of people from site now drunk with little chance of them driving! (believed to be the point). Hampshire police now station 2 PSU in village. Leave in a hurry for Stonehenge. Heard on police channels of an incident there (7.00pm) All over by arrival.
Friday 17th June.Leave offices to go to A36 Southampton Road sites (11.30am). They expect to receive notice of section 39 POA at 12.00prn. Some 60 – 70 vehicles present with a number of tents. 2PSU in attendance. (1.00pm) 1 Superintendent 1 Chief inspector Petty (in charge) and assorted police cars together with two more PSUs (with shields in the back) arrive. With them the County sheriff and owners of the other site (Tescos). Informed of section 39 and ordered to leave immediately. 20 police hand out the paper. All tents packed up immediately and left. Possession order for third site also enforced at the same time. Some vehicles also leave straight away but most take longer. Talk of various destinations including Pepperbox Hill. Lorries still arriving to the adjacent industrial estate some at speed. (presumably an exercise in intimidation) Spoke to Mr Petty about this. (l.50pm)
Left Southampton Road at approx. 2.50pm with police presence much reduced. 10 vehicles left. Proceeded to Pepperbox Hill, National Trust property 6 miles south of Salisbury on A36. (3.00pm) Six vehicles present on arrival, but people now arriving all the time. Met with Mr.Evans of the National Trust (Wiltshire and North Dorset). He seems very sympathetic to people’s plight and expressed surprise they had been evicted from land that had been scheduled for re- development. However, he had to ask people to leave by 12.00 noon tomorrow (Saturday). This may have to be reviewed depending on numbers arriving. (3.00pm). Back to Salisbury to report back. Out to Shrewton site with Vicki Stangroome. About 300 present with people parked and camped down a by-way (Os 184/075452). Met lots of new arrivals and assorted walks. Distributed last Public Order leaflets and police complaint leaflets. 15.Travel road from Shrewton to Airmans Cross and down A344 past Stonehenge. Police checkpoint now established at Airmans Cross. We are allowed past. At Stonehenge numbers of police controlling traffic. Contractors in process of removing some 10-12 vehicles from field surrounding Stonehenge. About 32 arrests reported for criminal damage, assault on police and POA offences (8.00pm). On all roads east of Stonehenge to Parkhouse roundabout, numbers of vehicles and people always about. Back to Salisbury, learn vehicles impounded at Stonehenge earlier have been towed to Everliegh Tip. Back to Shrewton site again. Now quite large number of arrivals. Most having arrived from towns. Drive past Stonehenge, (11.00pm). Checkpoints no longer on approach roads. However, car park now closed with 2 PSUs stationed there. (? Four attempts now made to enter Stonehenge field). Return to Salisbury office (l.00am) via site of London walk at Cholderton Hill Nr. Parkhouse Roundabout. (Os 184/248428)