Sunday, 22 April 2018

Life Prioritised...

Families ripped and torn, our dead inadequately mourned, illnesses ignored and treatments paused, children passing through stages missed, loves not seized and lips less kissed. We could have been so much more than this…

These years could have contained so much more…

And we will never know what was lost to us whilst we had to remain on high-alert. We were not intended for endless battle.

There's one ‘go-round’ in life and as I look upon the faces of other activists who struggle too to get a truth heard and receive some fragment of justice… I see people sacrificing the joy of the ride to rush to the side of the earth and her children’s greatest needs.

This life sets fire to our past, claws away the masks of once trusted beliefs to reveal, greed, cruelty and weakness… only made bearable by the glimmers of hope, glimpses of the depths of beautiful humanity and a sense of clarity that although harsh, is at least honest.

Being clad only in flesh, we humans are not great barriers to the threats by heavy objects that threaten our young and hurtle at us at speed ... but there is no denying we will try and when we’re pushed away, will return to try again. The only other option would be to sit by, watch them drive tankers of harm into our community and wish we were bigger, stronger, louder, tougher, less fleshy… accepting a fate on behalf of our children that would be criminal.

This ‘democracy’ slammed shut the doors of access to all but those with corporate power and success as we were left at dead-ends in courts of law and courts of appeal; deals already done, dusted and signed-off in all but public name and we… we keep on poking, prodding, digging, delving, walking up those hills and merry-helling because there is no choice but to stand strong until this is done.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Silenced, Censored, Unheard...

Very grateful for the thorough and accurate reporting coming out of the Roseacre Inquiry... one piece which I'll paste after my bit, managed to capture more clearly my unusual Wednesday at the Inquiry. ...on Wednesday evening many interest parties were given their 5-minutes to put their case to the Inquiry and I was on the list. The Inquiry can ONLY address traffic issues and where many came to speak of dog walkers, horse riders, schoolchildren, residents etc being road users, I came to speak about those of us who would become road users in the area if the site got given the go-ahead. The Inspector turned off my microphone within about 1.5 minutes and gave the impression that if I continued speaking, I would put the outcome of the Inquiry in jeapordy! Surreal, unjust and ridiculous behaviour unfitting for a man in position to appear as unbiased and impartial! Thanks to Fred Moor of Counterbalance for the following coverage of all that happened: -------------------------------------------------- 211 Tina Rothery On the list we had seen, Ms Rothery had been scheduled to speak at slot eleven of fourteen speakers, but she was not called until all the other public speakers had spoken. As the end of a long day approached, but before Ms Rothery actually spoke, we had begun to draft couple of paragraphs to conclude this session. They began: "Maybe it was the lateness of the hour and the fact that (as the Inspector himself said), he had not had his dinner yet. And perhaps he didn't intend to give the impression we were forming, but we couldn't help coming to the view that he was politely putting up with having to listen to all the public speakers. He left us with the impression that this was something that had to be gone through, but not something he gave a lot of weight to. That perception can also engender the impression that he's already made up his mind to recommend the Secretary of State to allow the appeal of course. We don't think that is the case, (and we certainly hope it's not), but his manner; his phrasing; and his body language has left us with the impression that he only really wants to hear the evidence from the professional technical experts - and anything else is more or less superfluous, (as can be deduced from the exchange with Mr De Feu for RAG which we reported yesterday)." As we said, that was before Ms Rothery spoke. Her contribution raised his ire and we report it verbatim now. Inspector: "Tina Rothery?" Ms Rothery: "Thank you very much for the opportunity. My name's Tina Rothery and although I live locally I'm here as a nationwide campaigner against fracking and have been for seven years...." Inspector (interjecting): "I don't want to hear anything about fracking. As far as I'm concerned..." Ms Rothery (interjecting): "I was telling you my role and why I was here, sorry, OK. We're addressing the highway safety for when Cuadrilla comes to Roseacre if they do, and the impact of the traffic. I'm here to address the impact of the protestors if Cuadrilla comes. We'll also also arrive along with that traffic I've seen communities throughout the seven years, from Balcombe to Barton Moss, Horse Hill and everywhere in between, rise up when there is a threat they consider to their homes, their families and their children. People you wouldn't ordinarily assume would become protestors, and although the territory about them is familiar, the actual role they fulfil within that becomes very dangerous for the traffic. Trucks don't always appear as 'Trax' does, and I can speak of this from how we see Cuadrilla operate at PNR. The trucks [indistinct word - there?] look to us like something bringing harm to our children, and so therefore our response to them will be very different. Hundreds of groups of residents have formed throughout the country, and there's no reason to expect that Roseacre won't do the same. I think as you can see from the Inquiry that there are very many more against, and I've not yet seen anybody who is for.
The message also that I would think be received by Cuadrilla and this Inquiry is that over the last 15 months, approximately 480 days, protestors have been at Preston New Road site where Cuadrilla is currently developing, and have not desisted or left, and I understand that Cuadrilla was trying to put across the point that Roseacre will not see the same level of protest, and I come with a message from everybody on the four camps over at Preston New Road, that we absolutely fully intend on being in Roseacre, and objecting there was we've objected to Cuadrilla in Balcolmbe and Blackpool. So it was just to correct them on their assumption and we don't consider that just because we don't live in Roseacre, that we're not locals. Air and water - I know you don't want to consider fracking - but air and water do travel outside the area. Currently we're experiencing on Preston new Road which I can use as the only example we have at the moment, police who are overstretched, over tires and on overtime costing a great deal of money....." Inspector (interjecting): "I don't really think this is appropriate. It's not relevant to highway safety. We already know that you're intending to protest there. I'm not sure where that take the Secretary of State's decision. So thank you for appearing but I'd like you to go." Ms Rothery's microphone was off at this point and it was hard to hear her response bit we think she said: "If there's a company vehicle in a 20 mph road over 45 mph....." Inspector (interjecting): "I dont.... That may be so...." Ms Rothery: "The impact of traffic and our safety on those roads..." Inspector: "Well..." Ms Rothery: "Indistinct words but sounded like - Why can't I speak? ) Inspector: "We are aware of, of, I've been told that you are...." He stopped short of concluding this sentence and we have to say some possible unspoken endings that led from it from it troubled us. Ms Rothery tried to make progress to explain herself but with her microphone not working we could not hear what she said clearly enough to quite verbatim. Inspector: "You've obviously not been here listening to what tee scope of this inquiry is, or you wouldn't be here talking in the way that you are. OK? So as far as I'm...." Ms Rothery: "The inquiry involves the impact [and? or?] the safety as regards the traffic...." Inspector (forcefully and with even more increasing forcefulness toward the end): "The Inquiry is about the appellant's mitigation measures to improve highway safety. If You've got things to say on those then say it. If you don't have things to say on those then I'll be very grateful if you'd leave." Again we couldn't exactly hear what Ms Rothery was saying here but she seemed to be trying to speak about how Cuadrilla would deal with the safety of people who were protesting on the highway and a number of other items. Inspector: "I don't think it's a matter for me. I don't intend to go there. So as far as I'm concerned, you're taking the case nowhere. OK? All You're doing is annoying me, which is not going to, well, if you like, my, my consideration of the whole experience tonight, and a lot of people have come here to express very real concerns about the impact of the appellant's mitigation proposals. OK? Which is what I want to take away and think about." There was a brief inaudible few words from Ms Rothery which sounded like "In the interest of Roseacre I will step down" before the Inspector said
"Good" Ms Rothery left the stand and the inspector said "That's the end of my list of people wishing to speak, I don't think I've missed anyone have I? No. In that case I will adjourn the Inquiry until one o'clock tomorrow. Thank you very much for coming along It was not an edifying exchange. The Inspector must have been tired, it was 8pm after a full day, but we're not sure that justified the tone he used. Ms Rothery told us as she left that she had wanted to address the matter of Cuadrilla's plans to ensure the safety of highway protestors, saying that the Inquiry had given regard to the safety to dogs and horses on the road, but seemed not to want to consider the safety of those who were protesting on the road. To be honest we thought the Inspector had been foolish in his handling of this matter. A wiser inspector might simply have put his pen down, listened in silence until she finished, said thank you, and, if he felt inclined, not included any irrelevant aspects in his report. Seeking to effectively publicly censor what Ms Rothery could say at the Inquiry was unhelpful, and we thought it was damaging to the credibility of the Planning Inspectorate as a body, especially when he has the power to determine what goes into his report. Perhaps a fresh day will improve things.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

United Resistance Week One...

There were so many times this past week when I could have written with a heart overflowing with love, joy and gratitude… other times I could have written bereft, soul-destroyed, sore and deflated… yet it’s tonight when I’m simply tired, reasonably soothed and just a little numb with the acceptance of the inevitable of it all …that I finally find time and space to sit, think and offload in word as we concludeWeek One, 2nd - 6th April: Nanas/Women against Fracking of the United Resistance and ready self forWeek Two, 9th - 13th April: Political Colours (longing for it to be “Week DONE” and this part over with).

So how was the first week then…
Well, it was meant to be a story and that it certainly was; about Women coming together to face a direct threat to our reproductive systems, to our risk of breast cancer and most importantly… to the survival of our children through pregnancy and beyond.

The vote was meant to mean something...
We started with an event that honoured the work of fellow women activists who sought to get us a vote 100 years ago… we stand again for that vote to actually mean something and for the sacrifice of our sisters not to have been for nothing but a rip-off ‘democracy’ offering phoney participation.

Good vs. Evil & Moral right vs. Law...
We followed with a Call for Calm as we do every Wednesday… a pause to catch breath every Wednesday morning that helps us ‘re-set’ ourselves rather than continuing stress and tension at the roadside that would otherwise grow and grow without stop. That afternoon, circles of women sat to knit and crotchet in ever increasing tangles that police warned could be conceived as a ‘lock-on’ – as the event was described as a ‘yarn-on’ we were obviously unsurprised at police perception. More than 50 police were sent to dismantle us. Usually… scenes of police dismantling activists is seen as somewhat expected, with a clear sense of ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ put across in the media to make it all palatable – we were not palatable., We were CLEARLY not the ‘bad guys’ and this put the police in the position of manhandling the good guys… and it all got very messy and uncomfortable… but point made I think.

Community as a toxic hazard zone......
Toxic Thursday followed and that was all a bit ‘off plan’ but plans aren’t public so we’ll leave it at that and accept that not all things happen as intended… but sometimes, you get a great outcome anyway. The police clearly decided that ladies with yarn were bad enough… but once we put on those all-in-one hazard suits, the danger level seemed to raise along with police numbers and manhandling. It was all going pretty awfully as we were dragged, pushed and shoved across the road before bouncing back and enduring the same again… then a cheer went up and our female truck-surfer was in glorious place! I told her I would write my blog claiming it was the plan all along lol… it wasn’t, she was just magnificent at seizing a moment and stating “I feel safer up here than down there where they won’t let me protest.”

Bury this industry, not our children...
The final day of the Women’s Week was dark, sombre, genuine and beautiful in it’s raw, honest sadness. We allowed ourselves to genuinely grieve and mourn our own losses – knowing that our aim to prevent the awfulness of mourning for others in the future. I have never been more moved than I was by the warmth of of our union on this and all the other days… women who are not always able to be together, coming together in trust. I saw many reach a point of change – where the decision to truly DEFY kicked in and the police requests no longer had moral weight enough to be heeded.

We were gifted music, joy, kinship, unity and laughter on the Saturday night as Seize the Day gave up their time to bring us the energy to go on and the music to revive us.

Fracking is bloody awful… but the cure it is causing, is the most beautiful thing 

*Photo: Refracktion
**TOMORROW: Magid Magid comes to PNR
***We urgently need your help at the roadside EVERY Monday to Friday 7:30am to 6:30pm - all welcome and any time spared is hugely valued.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Open Letter to the Police at PNR...

Dear Police Officers,

What are we to do? How do you see this playing out? The reality that you as well as we (those acting to stop fracking) see is that this government wants hundreds of frack sites here in Lancashire and many thousands across the country – and equally clear is that residents throughout the UK will continue to act to stop this. It’s been 7 years now and we’re still here, still growing and not stopping. Our opposition in England is a part of a worldwide movement that has succeeded in getting this industry halted and we know we can succeed because of this… Scotland, Ireland North & South and Wales have set examples and England is the last place still pursuing fracking in the UK.

We are in the middle of an undeniable dilemma because none of us want to see our councils bankrupted by the cost of policing for fracking sites and none of us want to witness our communities denied proper levels of policing because you’re being used as truck escorts for fracking vehicles .. yet the government has seen fit to use officers like you, to enable a despised industry to be forced into communities without social license; what the hell did they think would be the outcome?

You can’t say it too loudly but we know that you have huge cause to consider this government in the same way we do; your numbers cut (20,000 less officers now than in 2010), your pension age raised and standards undeniably lowered due to cost cutting. Privatisation is nibbling away at your force in a stealth-like fashion similar to what is happening in education and the NHS …outsourcing forensics, prisoner processing and other departments and considering giving rights to arrest to private security firms. You are not treated with respect… and nor are we.

The UK is supposed to be a democracy and one of the better-off countries in the world and yet, our successful rejection of fracking through our Council was overturned and you have seen cuts you can’t fight against yet have to manage the fall-out from. So where we each stand and what we each suffer in our daily work (yes, I am working – my job is to protect my young as my first priority) is caused by the same people – who then set us against each other in an unwinnable scenario that is destined to bring serious harm.

I have witnessed tired officers grow angry and act dangerously …of course we get tired too and tempers fray and we make you more angered and aggressive by taking our frustration and anger out on you too. Meanwhile back in Westminster… lobbyists for the fracking industry and lobbyists for companies like SERCO and G4S, have the ear and favour of senior politicians. You and we go unheard and unheeded. When Theresa May finally leaves Downing Street, we will see more clearly which industries she got close to as we have with former Prime Minister Cameron this week; he spoke at a large Oil & Gas industry event in America… they like him and he is well rewarded for his work with them. It’s clear that he made these connections during his time in power and easy enough to work out what contracts, laws and actions led to the positive relationship.

Yesterday an Officer used what I assume is usual force in getting someone out of the way in an incident… the only thing is, the person thrown wasn’t a dangerous criminal, drunk aggressor or violent thug – it was a small woman and she flew further than the Officer judged. Cath landed in the path of an oncoming vehicle that swerved instantly and only missed causing serious harm or death by a moment. Today, a respected elder witnessed more rough handling by the police and broke down. She was genuinely shocked and said in a tone of absolute disbelief “I HATE THE POLICE!”. She is a warm, kind and gentle woman who like so many of us – never imagined life could look this ugly. We paid taxes, voted, believed we lived in a fair country and that if danger came… there were safeguards in place to call upon and before the reality kicks in along with the sadness and anger, we break with the realisation of truth. The government is responsible for this and you, like us are bearing the pain.

A community’s police force is there for public safety and we are unsafe every day because of a dangerous industry – yet you are tasked with protecting that industry’s metal trucks and equipment… from soft-fleshed people – many of whom are women over the age of 50 for goodness sakes.

What is right, lawful, just or fair about this picture?

We are nearly too far down this path to repair and something serious must happen to change this situation because your force and our residents are at breaking point and that’s with just ONE frack site… they want hundreds. Government and industry will aim to injunct everything they can but we’ll just nudge up next to the edge of every injunction or we’ll go to the places the equipment sets off from and we will not stop because we can’t. What would it take for you to move out of the way of a child and let danger come to them? That’s what drives us and keeps us in this truly awful situation… we CAN’T go till the frackers do.

The solution? No bloody idea – but I suggest it starts with a conversation within the police force and that there needs to be a forcing of the government to see the truth of the danger that is growing on the streets that surround a fracking site in Lancashire.

Friday, 23 March 2018

A (Lancashire) Cry for Help...

A Cry for Help...
Please don't turn away, it really is you that can make all the difference to the people of Lancashire who are in urgent need of your help. We face a huge threat to our health, our children's futures and the safety of the air and water we all depend on and share throughout the country.

The search for gas beneath our community is at a critical stage and the drill is deep now into the shale; as the company behind the site just outside Blackpool, prepares to begin fracking.

We have worked so hard for seven years to stop this industry and as a UK-wide movement, have grown, united, resisted and succeeded in halting any further fracking in the UK since the one and only fracking operation here in 2011. But now... we are so close we can sense the methane, feel the tingle of potential seismic activity and ache just knowing, what more could come.

The stress on our community reached its peak on 4th January 2017 when Cuadrilla came back and started development of a new site on the busy A583 (Preston New Road) and that stress has not eased in the many hundreds of days since> We residents and generous supporters who travel to support us, have gathered at the site every single day and used every lawful and non-violent method we could find to stop this industry from bringing industrialised danger to our doorsteps.

Drillers Cuadrilla are about nine months behind schedule (yay!) but we need to make this stop before it ruins even more lives and depletes and exhausts those of us who have had to put so much into this. Of course we cannot expect people to just stop working, stop providing for their families, stop tending to the needs of those who depend on them and join us each day... all we're asking for is that when you book a break and some time off, that you think of us.

We have arranged a wonderful opportunity for anyone to find their way to help.... from banner waving, bearing witness or help with cooking and welfare - to non-violent direct actions and everything in-between. The United Resistance... 3 months of Love & Defiance, divides up and distributes the hard work of daily activism into 'niche weeks' where groups take responsibility for a set Monday to Friday 8:30-18:00 period of time with the sole aim to resist fracking. You... can join on any day, stay for any period of time and all we ask is that you bring your very valuable self.

In return, we will provide a wonderful space at our 'Community Hub' (just 10 mins from the Cuadrilla site) for breakfast and evening meals (no cost) and deliver lunch at the roadside. We also have 3 camping areas (no cost) and of course as we're so close to lovely Blackpool, plenty of B&B options nearby. The added extras you'll enjoy should you join us include a huge sense of warm solidarity, self empowerment and a real sense of community and purpose... and the children will eternally be grateful that you stood for them 

Week 1: Women's Week 2-6 April
Week 2: Political Colours 9-13 April
Week 3: North West Week 16-20 April
Week 4: No Faith in Fracking 23-27 April
Week 5: Art & Music Week 30 April-4 May
Week 6: Save our Land 7-11 May
Week 7: Uniting the Roses 14-18 May
Week 8: Camps United 21-25 May
Week 9: International Week 28 May-1 June
Week 10: Unions 4-8 June
Week 11: Green Party 11-15 June
Week 12: PNR Week 18-22 June
Week 13: RtP & FInale Week 25-29 June

Week One, 2nd - 6th April: Nanas/Women against Fracking
Week Two, 9th - 13th April: Political Colours
Week Three, 16th - 20th April: North West Week
Week Four, 23rd - 27th April: No Faith in Fracking
Week Five, 30th April - 4th May: Art And Music Against Fracking
Week Six, 7th - 11th May: Save Our Land
Week Seven, 14th - 18th May: Uniting the Roses
Week Eight, 21st - 25th May: Local Camps and Health day
Week Nine, 28th May - 1st June: International Week
Week Ten, 4th - 8th June: Unions
Week Eleven, 11th - 15th June: Green Party Week
Week Twelve 18th - 22nd June: Preston New Road
Week Thirteen 25th - 29th June: Reclaim the Power + Finale Week

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Spirit leveling… a bubble toss

“So you decided to become an Activist then?”
“But you’re an Activist!”
“Yes that bits right but I never ‘decided’, it wasn’t like there was any choice in the matter. Once I knew the danger coming for our children, I couldn’t UNknow it, couldn’t just walk away, go home, get back to everyday life and put my trust in the bloody system that brought the life-threatening industry to the doorstep... to keep us safe from it! There was no out-door, this is purely and simply an obligation I can’t escape. I’m an Activist because it’s essential… but I’d rather be dancing and finding joy.”

-When you’re watching the development of a literally life-threatening industry in your back yard and it’s legal… you question the justice of law.

-When the government tells you you’re getting the life-threatening industry and lies that it won’t hurt anything and the children are safe… you question the integrity of state.

-When the media throws out headlines implying that the person you stand beside, protecting your community is a dangerous ‘extremist’… you question the intent of this form of media.

-When the bosses of the life-threatening industry climb into bed with your Chambers of Commerce, educational institutes and some local Councillors… you question the point of democratic process or any bloody process.

-When enough local people and enough cause for concern finally means that the local Council sees sense and stops the life-threatening industry, only to have that decision overthrown by central government… you question the point or validity of our ‘democracy’.

And that’s the thing that we become… the ones who question everything.

We realise the ease with which we’ve been fed lies and react by disbelieving more than we should… mistrusting too much because we’ve lost faith in all the structures that once seemed in place. Even if we already had doubts and criticisms… nothing prepares you for the mess you uncover when you peel back the media-myth of ‘reality’ and start seeing just how ugly the truth can get.

There are lows that take the wind out of you… times when you just weep for what needs sorting and what it means if we don’t sort it all; what we bequeath our children if we fail. Not just fracking either - that’s just one particularly huge and obvious symptom – there’s all the realisations that come with opposing fracking: the lies of media, the abuses of our legal system to serve corporate control and profit , the corruption of our system of government that seems subordinate to corporate greed, the powerlessness of the citizen, the failure of the imagined safe-guards to live up to expectation, the use by state of police to protect the ‘bad guys’ rather than protect the community they’re supposed to keep safe, the prioritisation of ‘the economy’ over other considerations like healthy children and futures where they have safe air and water… and sadly, so much more.

There’s a lot to do and because we know it was possible for our children to be put directly in harm’s way by our government… we question what else has been done? What else has been passed or will come to pass? Facing what has become of the world around us, starts dark and heavy.

Activism is not for the faint-hearted – it tears apart all you believe and leaves you raw. We all have rage about this industry but as the bosses aren’t there in front of us to shout at, the rage can fly in the wrong directions. There have been harms along the way and losses, those who are broken by the fight or are affected mentally; becoming paranoid and quick to accuse. Trust suffers most I think, as we constantly look for the lies, look for the plants and spies, look for the truth so intently.. we miss it clouded in too much doubt.

Life keeps on happening to all of us at the roadside and beyond in this (and other) movement but we’re in no position to deal with it in the way we once did. Finding balance in life is difficult… the finding of time and place for when you can fit in family, work, friends, grief, joy, income-generation, self-care etc and as for future planning – that just doesn’t exist anymore as all is at the whim of this demanding fight. We all deal with the challenges differently.

Amidst the awful – it feels important to take time to see the gains, the good stuff and the wins along with the shiny bits: the way strangers can unite, the way self-empowerment makes people beautiful, the breaking down of social boundaries, the trashing of preconceived notions and judgements, the variety of amazing minds that come with the territory, the way some blossom with purpose after realising that they CAN do something and not just be a victim, the surprise of what you learn from the quietest voices you’d never have heard under any other circumstances…

...the beauty is in the faces of the ‘heroes’ and they don’t wear tights or have letters on their chests; they’re fighting in council chambers with words and wisdom, they’re on top of trucks with honour and bravery, they’re drafting legal challenges and positions so we can get better justice, they’re up night and day informing press so the story doesn’t die, they’re on shifts in the cold noting every move the life-threatening industry makes, they’re knocking on doors informing one person at a time or talking in halls to many… the only common denominator amongst us, is intent. We ALL intend on stopping fracking and that is our pact, our bond and our unifier.

I sometimes get accused of being too soft (other times of being too harsh lol!) and I do question whether I’m any good at being an activist when I find it so hard to hate anyone and keep finding reasons to smile amidst it all. Maybe love is the drug that wrecks the rage of activists? I think it’s all we need to begin the healing and as activism is voluntary and autonomous… I’m going to go on doing it this way for the sake of keeping my spirit level.