Balcombe tripod protest man arrested

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A 29-year-old man was arrested at Balcombe yesterday afternoon (Thursday September 5) after he was removed from a tripod that blocked the B2036 road for five hours.

A police statement says that the tripod was erected in the middle of the road outside the Cuadrilla drilling site at about 8.10am and the man climbed it.

Traffic was still flowing freely on the 60mph road at the time and drivers had to take avoiding action, adding an extra hazard to the tented community that is encamped on the verges at the site.

While he was up the tripod, the man threatened to urinate on police officers and super-glued himself to the metal structure. He was brought down by specialist protest removal officers and arrested on suspicion of obstructing a police officer and an offence under Section 241 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act.

In response to the increase in direct action protests that has occurred this week, Sussex Police has now enforced a spontaneous Section 14 notice in the area of the drilling site.

The notices, under the Public Order Act 1986, are issued where the senior police officer present believes the direction is necessary to prevent disorder, damage, disruption or intimidation.

The notice clarifies where the protestors may assemble and if they do not comply with the direction or they incite another person to do so, they will commit an offence and may be liable to arrest.

Superintendent Lawrence Hobbs said: “Throughout the last six weeks we have been absolutely clear that we are happy to facilitate those who wish to protest peacefully and safely. In recent days, we have seen an increase in the number of those intent on criminal or anti-social behaviour.

“These criminal activities are endangering everyone at the site and are having a massive impact on the Balcombe community. I am told that around 60 children were delayed in returning to school this morning when their transport was disrupted by the road closure and I understand that a distraught mother met with protesters earlier today when she was unable to get to the school where her daughter had been taken ill.

“This is unacceptable and we have now taken action to define an area where peaceful protest will be facilitated today. This is being reviewed regularly to ensure that our response is proportionate, legitimate and necessary. We are determined to minimise disruption to the Balcombe community and to ensure that those who want to go about their lawful business, including those using the road, can do so unhindered. There should be no doubt that those who break the law will be arrested and we will do all that we can to put them in front of a court.”

A 26-year-old man, no address given, was arrested on suspicion of breach of the Section 14 order shortly after it was put in place, having ignored advice from police.

A 44-year-old woman from Burgess Hill who ignored directions to stop at the road closure on London Road, Balcombe, was arrested on suspicion of failing to stop for police.