Protesters evicted from Euphoria

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Indy Lifestyle Online
The 'State of Euphoria' was wiped out yesterday as the long-running campaign against the M11 link road neared its nemesis.

'Euphoria' had been established as a group of squatter-occupied homes and a tree in Fillebrook Road, Leytonstone. These lie on the route of the new dual carriageway road, which links the A102(M) Blackwall tunnel motorway with the M11.

It was one of a chain of colourful eco-anarchist redoubts holding out against the controversial Department of Transport road scheme. But yesterday 130 police arrived to support bailiffs and a High Court under-sheriff in exercising eviction orders against the squatters.

More than a dozen of the protesters occupied the rooftops of three homes in the street - to no avail. They were brought down, the inside of the houses cleared and three arrests were made. More than 100 demonstrators were present.

The protesters say they have delayed the construction of the pounds 200m road scheme by five months but defeat now appears to be looming. 'I'm afraid the contractors and the Department of Transport are steam-rollering us,' said campaigner Paul Dennison. 'They're on a bit of a roll.'

Trees, condemned homes and even the gardens of houses which have already been demolished along the four-mile line of the link road have been occupied. One by one they have fallen this year, including the Free State of Wanstonia established near Wanstead Tube station.

Last week was filled with setbacks for the resistance campaign. A small patch of woodland seized by the road-builders near the Green Man roundabout, between Wanstead and Leytonstone, was cleared of squatters. So were some occupied gardens in nearby Fillebrook Road. The High Court also awarded injunctions against nine protesters restraining them from further action.

Claremont Road in Leytonstone should be the link road's Alamo. Although protesters have been evicted from a few houses in that street, 20 have been occupied and several are heavily fortified.

There are wooden defence towers projecting above the rooftops and chimney pots filled with concrete, to which protesters will chain themselves. There are even 'lock on' points in the road where protesters will chain themselves. They want to prevent the arrival of the specialised trucks with hydraulic platforms which are used to seize rooftop protesters.

'Claremont Road is our last stand - there's nowhere else very obvious to squat,' said Mr Dennison.

The Department of Transport yesterday said the road scheme had not been delayed at all and was on course for completion in 1997.

The campaigners concede that it is fortunate no one has been killed in the rooftop struggles between evictors and protesters. The anti-link road campaign has been the most militant and hard-fought in Britain. Even the roof of the previous Secretary of State for Transport, John MacGregor, was occupied for several hours one summer morning.

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