|Illegally excluded from their own premises|
We have effectively been evicted from our head office and brewery site by a group of up to 100 travellers who are now denying us access in an aggressive stand-off. They are putting our family business in real and present danger.
We have been in Blackburn for over 200 years and have never experienced anything like this. They have no business on our site and are carrying out criminal damage as we speak. We are in discussions with police who have supported us during the course of the day and have the powers to evict this group immediately under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, which they have not yet exercised. We desperately need their help to remove these people as soon as possible.
Hourly the site is being degraded and in the space of a day has become a disgusting mess. We call on the police to act now to address this situation. We have established a crisis centre to ensure our customers can continue to do business with us, but every hour's delay, or awaiting the courts opening on Tuesday after the bank holiday to get an eviction notice will mean further criminal damage to our site and our business.
We find ourselves powerless victims in this situation and I find it incredible that these travellers are allowed to get away with this sort of behaviour.Many years ago at the Cambridge Folk Festival, a plain-clothes police officer didn't want me standing where I happened to be loitering: he assaulted me, dragged me backwards by the neck and threatened me with arrest. I was in a public place which happened to be near the police drug squad tent, although I wasn't aware of that fact until the next day when I had a chat with the people on the 'Legalise Cannabis Campaign' stall.
They could act aggressively against a lone, peaceable, and rather drunk music lover when it suited them, but faced with determined opposition, it seems they become powerless. Strange: they weren't so bashful at Orgreave.
- For the record, I don't take illegal drugs: you don't have to be a cannabis user to support the principle of legalisation.
- I'm not anti-traveller, but actions like this reinforce the hostile attitudes that many people do have.
Today I had to walk a gauntlet of broken glass, dirty nappies, burnt out pallets, and trash just to reach my office. Couldn't see my desk, because the contents of my drawers had been rifled through and thrown around, along with my colleagues' possessions, photos and work. Our proud brewers watched as their last week of hard work brewing was destroyed and poured away ... everyone has rolled up their sleeves and cleared up the damage left behind by travellers, filling 3 skips in the process. I seriously can't believe how much damage can be caused in 24 hours.