In accordance with Rule No. 15.1 the following questions have been submitted to the Council from members of the public:
(i) Wendy Patterson
“On 11th November 2021, before and during the overnight occupation of the Library Garden by four protestors, instructions were issued by a council representative about what could and could not be brought on site to keep the protestors warm and comfortable. The gift of a chair from supporters was refused by the council representative on the grounds that nothing that can be used for ‘habitation’ is permitted. Similarly, a pillow was refused, sleeping bags and a pop-up tent. From where did these instructions come? Who decided what and what would not be allowed? It should be noted that the police officers were far more reasonable about what the protestors were allowed and when the council representative was not on duty, a swap of chairs for more comfortable ones was permitted and various previously forbidden items were brought to the protestors by the police.”
(ii) Darrell Pointing
“11/11/21: A police officer from Mansfield spoke to the protestors who remained on site and said that ‘this appears to be a matter of trespass only, which is not police business’. On what grounds did NSDC require the police to attend and what did they tell the police which led the force to mount a large and expensive operation with very many hours of police and community police officers time taken up with supervising a peaceful protest? Having been issued with the directive to leave the garden to avoid arrest, why were those protestors who remained not arrested? What laws were the protestors breaking by staying on the garden?”
(iii) Christine Stevenson
“11/11/21: With about 50 protestors on site and while designated PNGS spokespersons were led away to the rear of the garden to speak to a police officer - Sgt 2858 Matt Ward. A council worker/contracted by the council attacked the hedge between the garden and the public footpath on the London Road car park with a chainsaw. This took place with no warning, no cones, no health and safety measures at all, while members of the public and children were present on the path, on the grass and on the garden. Who authorised this dangerous and illegal action? Video and eye witness accounts available.”
(iv) Louise Smith
“On 11 November, metal fence panels were brought onto the garden and council workers/council contracted workers proceeded with speed to erect the panels. Their haste and lack of attention to detail was such that they commenced installing the fencing along the public footpath by the Library thereby blocking the fire exit from the Library. When this was pointed out, in the midst of a chaotic and brutal operation to seal off The Library Garden, the fencing was moved forward onto the grass and off the footpath.
Please could you address the following questions:
* On whose authorisation was the attempt to block the fire exit from the Library?
* What were the precise instructions given to council representatives/workers/ contracted workers about this operation to secure the ‘compound’ for an immediate start of work (despite police assurances to the protestors that the only work that would be carried out was the fencing).”
(v) Pamela Ball
“12.11.21 - A person was escorted on to the library gardens (proposed car park annexe), to undertake a bat survey. Protestors were informed that this person would not provide a name, or credentials. A protestor read out the regulations for such a survey at this time of year, namely bat hibernation period.
A minimal ground survey of the four trees using binoculars was conducted, to establish likelihood of bat roosts. Ladders were then used to examine a bat box in the large sycamore tree. However, bat boxes are only used for summer roosting and should therefore not be used to establish the presence of bats.
After the preliminary bat survey, which is an incomplete survey, a phase 2 survey should be conducted between May-September.
St Georges Trust conducted a detailed bat ecological survey on 24 October 2021, on behalf of the campaign group, which was subsequently provided to Newark and Sherwood District Council, establishing a high level of bat activity!
Very shortly after this preliminary survey, council contracted workers readied themselves at the rear of the garden to bring tree felling equipment onsite.
Did the bat surveyor actually submit a report with all the details, analysis and photos etc within minutes of his survey? Which officer at NSDC received the report, read it, checked it for completeness and validity and authorised the tree felling to go ahead? Had a licence from Natural England been applied for?
Over the past 50 years our wildlife has declined by 41% . Bats are a protected species and have lost much of their habitat. It is illegal to disturb or destroy bat roosts, the penalty for which is huge fines.
In these times of environmental awareness, did NSDC feel it appropriate to commit a wildlife crime?
Had Cllr Girling not arrived onsite to announce a uturn, this is exactly what would have happened!
Finally, if the tree felling had not been stopped minutes before it was due to start, what would have happened to the four remaining protestors? Would they have been forcibly removed by the police and on what grounds? If the protestors had been allowed to stay, what health and safety measures were in place to protect them?”
In accordance with Rule No. 15.1, members of the public submitted questions to the Council. Details of the questions put forward and the responses given from Councillor D.J. Lloyd are attached as Appendix A to these minutes.