Letter: Newbury and the roads dilemma: why we must break with the Briti sh car culture

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The Independent Online
Sir: You suggest that the "Third Battle of Newbury" has been a damp squib, (leading article, 5 April); that is not how things seem here in Newbury. Direct action against the Newbury bypass is unprecedented in scale, with policing and security expenditure already vastly eclipsing that of previous campaigns. The numbers and commitment of campaigners, both local and national, has been much greater than at Twyford Down, the M11 link or anywhere else, with thousands taking part, and 750 arrests in 12 weeks - and just for the Preliminary Contract, less that 2 per cent of the whole.

However, you righly highlight the pivotal significance that the Newbury campaign, has assumed for the anti-roads movement. Newbury's traffic problems have come to symbolise the national transport dilemma; stuck in a school- term Friday afternoon Newbury jam, the environment seems a tiresome irrelevance. Nonetheless, Newbury people remain deeply divided on the bypass; the feeling could be summarised as "It's a terrible shame, but we must do something now."

This is surely echoed nationally; Britons are opposed to destructive road-building, yet curse the traffic jams, and are still wedded to car culture. The social and environmental damage due to the car has never been as apparent as now, its centenary year. What we have and will continue to see at Newbury is not any fragmentation of the anti-roads movement, but rather its development into a anti-traffic movement.

Tim Allman

Road Alert!

Newbury, Berkshire

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