Regulation

Council bans pedestrians from fracking site verges until 2019 after spending £59k on security guards

 

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Security staff employed by Lancashire County Council. Photo: DrillOrDrop

 

Pedestrians have been barred from using the grass verges beside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site near Blackpool for more than a year and a half.

Lancashire County Council said this afternoon it had issued two temporary regulation orders for the short sections of verge either side of the site entrance at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton.

One order ran from 12 July to 1 August and the second from 1 August to 31 January 2019. Temporary Traffic Order Preston New Road

The ban emerged following a response to a Freedom of Information request about the cost of guarding the verges.

The council revealed that it had spent £59,280 for a month on security guards to prevent anti-fracking protesters using the verges either side of the site entrance.

In its response, the council also said:

“The County Council did fund security personnel on the highway in the vicinity of the site (this has now ceased) though public use of the highway is currently temporarily prohibited.”

Environmental campaigner, Helen Chuntso, who made the Freedom of Information (FOI) request, described the security contract as a “misuse of the public purse” and the ban on pedestrian use of the verges as “stretching the interpretation” of a temporary traffic order to “facilitate Cuadrilla”.

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Preston New Road 28 June 2017. Photo: DrillOrDrop

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Demolition on 3 July 2017

The verges had been used by opponents of Cuadrilla’s operation at Preston New Road.

Tents and pallet towers occupied the grass earlier this summer

High Court bailiffs evicted the tents and one tower on the morning of 12 July.

Another tower was demolished on 3 July, at a cost of £1,000, paid for by Lancashire Police.

 

This afternoon, Lancashire County Council told DrillOrDrop:

“As the land owner and highway authority we have a duty to consider the safety of road users. We undertook possession proceedings to secure the grass verge due to concerns that structures erected by protestors posed a serious safety risk to people using this busy A-road as well as the protestors themselves.

“After taking possession of the verge, we erected fencing and employed a security company to prevent the grass verge being reoccupied, also issuing a Temporary Traffic Regulation Notice prohibiting access to that part of the highway.

“In the meantime, the operator applied for a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order prohibiting access to the verge, which has been agreed in line with our normal practice in relation to works near the highway and concerns for safety.”

The order was published in the local Lancashire Evening Post and Blackpool Gazette newspapers and was displayed at the site, a spokesperson said.

According to the Freedom of Information response, the council employed six Security Industry Association-approved officers, two with guard dogs, to prevent access to the verges.

The arrangement was initially for one week but a further period of three weeks was agreed between the council and the contractor, the FOI response said.

“The contractor provided a quote based on the level of security they believed was suitable.

“I understand that, during an initial period, the contractor felt that an additional 2 officers should be on site. This additional cost was borne by the contractor.

“The council was satisfied that the contractor’s estimated personnel was proportionate to ensure safety of all, including their officers.”

Helen Chuntso said:

“In taking out a £59K contract to fund the private security guards of a corporation, Lancashire County Council are both misusing the ​public purse, and stretching the interpretation of the scope of a Temporary TRO to the fullest to facilitate Cuadrilla.

“This effectively removes the right to lawful protest on this section of public highway. With LCC only too happy to move these goalposts, weeks after a very tepid response to Cuadrilla’s planning conditions breach, it looks very much like the Council’s role is merely to quietly extend the red carpet further down the road for Cuadrilla, at taxpayer’s expense.”

24 replies »

  1. I think hrb the reason why no-one is there now just might have something to do with the injunction!! That is what has changed-it is now covered by an injunction. If anyone wants to breach that injunction then the police can act accordingly. Other security no longer required-it is quite straight forward and how bailiffs operate daily across the country.

  2. Hahaha talk about shooting yourself in the foot! So now the barmy brigade has fallen foul of the local council the government and the courts. Not got a lot going for them have they? [Edited by moderator]
    Good on you LCC!

  3. It’s bout time the protesters shut up, a very small local minority objected to fracking, yet all you see is we said no on their banners, what about the thousands of people fed up with these hippy activists make we said get lost [Edited by moderator]…………. because we are civilized!

  4. People of Lancashire and beyond, Take note. STAND UP NOW OR WE ARE ALL DOOMED.!,, FRACKING IS A DIRTY BUISNESS. …

  5. The latest polls show public opinion is two to one against fracking, and higher in areas directly.
    LCC voted against fracking.
    All political parties that haven’t got direct financial links to UKOOG are antifracking.

    Don’t confuse facts with stereotypes.

    Do we have democracy or imposition?

    Saying no to has become a radical act, and once defined as radical…..

    • What a load of baloney. There are about 100 die hard activists that simply want to go against ‘the system’ and as they refer to it and the rest are local NIMBYs.

  6. Derek-the latest polls show nothing of the sort. If you want to try and create fake news better not to do it on the site where Ruth has just reported the latest public opinion survey, that shows two thirds support fracking, or have no opinion either way.

    If you can not support your argument without resorting to such blatant false information, your argument is weak. But don’t let me stop you-the more this sort of misinformation is attempted the less likely you are to convert the two thirds.

  7. Is it just me or do the other pros sense the fire has left the belly of the protestors? I’ll stick around till the jobs completed. CoA at end of the month shall be interesting. It’ll depend if we get a lame judge as seen in the tragic case of baby Gard. A lot of judges are too weak to make a decision that will cause tears only to give them false hopes that are subsequently dashed later. Fingers crossed it’s a person with balls.

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