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Immediate release 16 April 1997
Happy Anniversary !
Diggers Return to Replant the Route
On Sunday 20th April, campaigners against the Bypass will be making good their offer to help return the scar on the countryside west of Newbury to something approaching its natural state. This coincides with the anniversary of the setting up of the Diggers Community and Garden on Snelsmore Common, known as Go-Tan .
Following hard on the admission by Steven Norris that the route is "less than ideal" and that "we could have spared all this countryside", local residents and other diggers are offering local and national politicians the chance to pull out before it is too late. They will arrive at what was Go-Tan, now a shadow of its former glory as compound 10A, at 12.30pm on Sunday, armed with digging gear and trees, including seedlings from the site - the Refutrees.
The diggers will be led by Daisy the Pantomime Cow, veteran of the Bypass campaign, who has offered to turn the first sod if the Highways Agency have the grace to allow her onto the route. After the planting, the diggers will be having a commemmorative picnic on the Common .
Adrian Foster-Fletcher, from CAMBUS (Businesses against the Bypass) said: "We have often been portrayed as being negative, but in truth we have consistently offered positive alternatives. Even at this late stage, we are prepared to volunteer our services to help replant. We challenge the politicians to accept our offer and pull out now."
Rachel Stark, Green Party candidate for Newbury, said: "There is now a clear undertstanding that roads create traffic. The future could be so much brighter if alternatives were put in place that not only gave more space to cyclists and pedestrians but created a sense of community like that proposed by the Diggers.
George Monbiot of the Land is Ours, who opened the Garden said: "By reclaiming the land to answer the needs of ordinary people, the Go-Tan Diggers provided an exciting alternative to the remote and unaccountable vision of the distant bureaucrats of the DoT."
More than 20 people are expected to attend the ceremony. They will at the compound gates at 12.30, with the cow, trees, tools and placards. On site liaison Martin Jakes