Police and bailiffs evict M11 protesters: More than 30 arrested in rooftop struggle to stop link road in east London

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The Independent Online
A ROOFTOP battle raged in east London yesterday as bailiffs, security guards and police struggled to evict protesters from three homes in the path of the M11 link road.

More than 30 protesters were arrested and a 15-year-old girl on a rooftop in Claremont Road, Leytonstone, suffered a broken arm. Police wearing riot gear were on the scene and a mechanised platform was used to bring down the demonstrators.

Once the eviction was under way, opponents of the road scheme, including dozens of local residents, flocked to the street of run-down, condemned homes, which has been turned into a commune. The bailiffs selected three houses in Claremont Road, where empty homes have been occupied by protesters, trees planted in the street and large sculptures erected.

The Department of Transport said the homes had to be demolished to allow advanced drainage work for the pounds 200m dual-carriageway road that will link the M11 with the A102(M) Blackwall Tunnel road. The street lies in the way of the three-mile road.

Five hundred police officers were at or near the scene, several dozen with riot gear. Superintendent Walter Poulter, of Leyton police, said: 'I am very concerned for the safety of everyone up there. Some of these people are behaving quite recklessly endangering their own safety as well as those of police officers and bailiffs.

'It's not the job of the police to remove them from the roof. That's down to the bailiffs. We are only there to prevent a breach of the peace and protect lives.' He criticised them for struggling against being removed.

Stephen Ward, of the nation- wide anti-roads organisation Alarm UK, said: 'I am sure the people up there are endangering their lives, that's how strongly people feel about this absurd road.' Children were among cheering and chanting protesters clinging to the roofs of adjacent houses while others shouted encouragement from the street.

Brenda Ramsey, a resident and campaigner, said they did not advocate children going on the roofs. She appealed for protesters to arrive in force today.