Minister receives unsolicited tip from miners

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The Independent Online
RURAL Oxfordshire, where the lush countryside has remained largely untouched by the ravages of the industrial revolution, was never noted for its deposits of coal. But a startling discovery yesterday at the Banbury estate of Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, may have changed all that.

Although rich seams of the mineral may not lie beneath the county's verdant fields, a significant deposit was discovered above ground by the monogrammed gate of Mr Heseltine's 400-acre Thenford House estate, blocking his drive-way.

However, this was not the direct result of nature's endeavours over millions of years, but rather the end product of a 100-mile dash down from Doncaster by incensed miners in a hired truck. A simple poster left on top of their three-ton delivery made the point: 'Coal Not Dole - Frickley NUM. Up Yours.'

It was a slick operation, which a lone policeman looking on from his patrol car was unable to stop. A tipper-truck sped up to the drive and unloaded the coal. Seconds later a blue Ford Sierra and a white BMW raced up to the 2ft- high pile and seven men leapt out declaring that they were from a mining community. The poster was positioned by the gang, which included a young boy, before speeding off.

Frickley NUM said yesterday that it knew nothing of the protest and that it was not official. But other more orthodox forms of protest mounted yesterday held their own surprises.

Cheltenham Spa was brought to a standstill by 3,000 people taking part in a 'non-political' protest against the pit closures. At the head of the march was Lord Neidpath, a landowning Gloucestershire peer.

Behind him, the Church was represented by the Bishop of Tewkesbury, the Rt Rev Jeremy Walsh, while Tory and Socialist Worker supporters stood shoulder to shoulder.

In Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, 2,000 miners' wives and other supporters took part in a protest march against proposed closures which will put 9,000 local men out of work.

Meanwhile, Roy Lynk, President of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers is continuing his one-man protest 1,200ft below ground at the nearby Silverhill colliery. Miners pledged yesterday to turn up for work today at Silverhill, although coal-cutting officially stopped at the end of last week.

(Photograph omitted)