LETTER : Thanks to police and protesters

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The Independent Online
From The Rev J. R. Cree

Sir: My quiet parish has just experienced a major event with the eviction of tree dwellers from Stamworth Woods, a local beauty spot. As the local vicar, I was on site for most of the period that the eviction took place. May I make the following observations and express public thanks. I thank the protesters for drawing the attention of a wider public to the loss of yet another lovely area of countryside. I regret that, during the earlier part of the eviction, some acted with a vigorousness that I felt endangered themselves as well as those who were empowered to remove them. As the week wore on, and the "long-term" tree dwellers were evicted, they acted properly with passive resistance.

I thank the Under Sheriff, who was required under the law to remove the protesters. He did so, in my opinion, with professionalism and firmness. The patience that he and his bailiffs showed meant that no significant injuries were inflicted upon either the "tree dwellers" or his own officers. I thank him for his courtesy in listening to me (and others) when I was asked by the tree dwellers to convey messages to him.

I thank the police for the firm but disciplined way in which they dealt with this protracted eviction. The senior officers involved gave me every courtesy and, among all the 300-plus police officers involved, I saw nothing but firm, disciplined behaviour. Where particular incidents required it, the authorities even pulled back to give me opportunity to talk to protesters.

My observation, as an independent "on-site" witness, is that despite the over-vigorous behaviour of some of the protesters, most can be pleased with their achievement in this protest. And that the Under Sheriff, and those acting in his name, can be satisfied that they fulfilled their legal objective in removing the protesters, despite the difficulties which they experienced. They can be pleased that they did so by acting firmly and responsibly throughout a very difficult few days.

Yours faithfully,

JOHN CREE

Feniscowles, Lancashire

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