Road protesters dig the dirt on minister

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Indy Politics
Newbury bypass protesters yesterday stuck an eviction notice to the home of Sir George Young, the Secretary of State for Transport, then dug a "road" through his garden.

Around 25 campaigners worked unhindered for more than an hour at Sir George's house in a secluded spot at Cookham, near Maidenhead, Berkshire, to mark the first anniversary of work on the bypass route. Four of them trailed banners proclaiming "save Newbury's landscape" and "Newbury today, where next?" from his roof while others dug up a 20ft by 15ft stretch of his back lawn. Some are thought to have gained entrance to the house.

But 10 were eventually arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to cause criminal damage after police were alerted.

At the same time, at a second home belonging to Sir George in St Mary Bourne, near Newbury, another dozen protesters delivered more than 1,000 postcards objecting to the bypass.

A spokesman for the campaigners, who call themselves the Third Battle of Newbury, said although that bypass was going ahead, road-building was still a live issue. "Roads are still being planned and in sensitive areas. Although Sir George didn't approve the Newbury one, he's minded to approve the Salisbury scheme which is very similar." And he added that Sir George, who is known as the Bicycling Baronet, should be called the Bulldozing Baronet instead.

Speaking shortly before being arrested at Cookham, Viki Lloyd, 24, a political researcher, said she thought Sir George would be upset by the attack but added: "It would be far more upsetting if a real road was built here and he had thousands of cars passing through. We are urging Sir George to adopt an integrated transport policy, rather than carry on building more cars and more roads."

A Department of Transport spokesman for Sir George said the protest was a matter for police. "They should not be committing criminal damage of this nature." Thames Valley Police Assistant Chief Constable Robert Davies added: "Attacking the home of a minister is far from peaceful protest and will not be tolerated."

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