Third Battle of Newbury

P.O. BOX 5520, Newbury, Berks. RG14 7YW.

Tel: 01635 45544 Fax: 01635 45545 24 hr info: 01635 550552

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Immediate Release `Monday 14th October 1996


Newbury protestors take to the trees in the garden of

Sir Christopher Benson - Chairman of Costain

At 5.45 a.m. on Sunday 14th October, a dozen protestors from Newbury occupied mature trees in the front garden of Sir Christopher Benson - Chairman o Costain. The demonstration, including a banner drop,was intended to highlight Costains continued involvement in the construction of the Newbury bypass was peaceful and passed off without incident.No arrests were made and protestors left at 10 a.m.

Sir Christopher Bensons front garden at 211 Castle Rd in south-east Salisbury was not fenced and easily accessed. Protestors used climbing equipment and a ladder to climb the mature breach, horse chestnut and sycamore trees in the front garden. Police, alerted by neighbours, arrived at 6.00 a.m. Protesters tied rope between the trees to create 'walkways' which allowed them to cross from one to another. Such walkways were used on route of the Newbury Bypass to try and prevent tree felling earlier this year. Banners reading 'eCostain - on the road to bankruptcy' and 'Benson, How green is your garden' were hung from the walkways in Sir Christopher's garden. A five foot high papier-mâché Sun was suspended from the trees next to a banner reading 'Stop the bypass blues'. Many of the protestors were Costain shareholders and Newbury residents.

Two police officers were stationed at the front of the property throughout the incident. Despite being resident, Sir Christopher and his wife refused to answer the door when a protester, accompanied a police officer called at the house. Sir Christopher's wife left in her car at 9.45 a.m. to attend church. The occupation was good natured and ended with protestors leaving a number of banners in situ.

A spokesman for The Third Battle of Newbury said

"Sir Christopher Benson pledged to review the Newbury bypass contract at Costain's AGM this year. We've heard nothing. Costains continued involvement in the Newbury bypass is leading to bankruptcy - both financially and morally" ENDS

Editors Notes

The European Ombudsman is currently investigating the European Commission's decision not to refer alleged breaches of European directives over the Newbury Bypass to the European Court (ECJ). The Ombudsman is due to report this month and could recommend the case be brought to the ECJ. If found guilty then this could result in an injunction to stop work and huge fines, both for the contractors and the British Government.

Photographs are available from the Salisbury Journal.