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TOYTOWN CAMP - 100 Days of Direct Action
Toytown Update - March 1999
Word is that the camp has now been totally cleared and all protesters evicted. We'll try and get more info and keep track of developments. Big respect to all those who gave up their time to try and stop this development.
Toytown Update - 29 October 1998
As Toytown enters its fourth month and passes the milestone of a hundred days of direct action, the activists on site are settling in for winter.
"As the nights draw in, we are preparing for a busy winter in Cheltenham," says a voice from the camp. "We've been working hard to make sure that all the treehouses are completely weatherproof, and have installed cooking facilities in the trees as well. So we will be warm, comfortable and well-fed: we're definitely here to stay and our camp is now sustainable throughout the winter and into 1999."
The campaign is also gearing up for further direct action over the coming weeks and months, challenging the builders Waitrose and Morrison Construction. "While the 'developers' dither, we willl be fortifying our defences and taking the issues to the decision-makers who want to desecrate Cheltenham," the voice continues. "Their plans are unnecessary and totally unwanted by the people of this lovely town. Our message is simple: Leave the woods and playing field alone; we don't want them destroyed."
Toytown Camp is defending one of the few remaining pieces of wild woodland in Cheltenham from Waitrose, who want to bulldoze the area for a petrol station as part of their plans for a massive supermarket right in the middle of town. The plans also involve two new roads and the destruction of a 3.5 acre playing field enjoyed by generations of Cheltenham's scholchildren.
Resistance has been ongoing for the past three years, with objections at every stage of the planning process. This resistance culminated in the peaceful occupation of the land in July 1998, and is set to continue well into 1999 and beyond.
Toytown Update - 22 Sept 1998
Cheltenham's protest camp Toytown reaches its first Equinox!
The camp's defending a beautiful piece of woodland right in the middle of Cheltenham, under threat from another (Waitrose) supermarket; and keeping a very close eye on a nearby 3-acre playing field, the planned site for a 600ft 'leisure shed' with another bowling alley, another multiplex cinema, another road - the same old Babylon bollox as usual.
Already the campers - virtually all from Cheltenham - have sorted out half-a-dozen treehouses, numerous benders and tepees; and are preparing to dig in against the bulldozers - should they ever arrive.
"It's still very possible that we could win," says a voice from the camp. "Just like Wyndham Hill in Yeovil a couple of years ago, the political will isn't really there, and if we can get rid of the profit motive then Waitrose and their cronies will see sense and run."
The council refuses to call a public enquiry, viewing 883 letters of objection as an 'insufficient' demonstration of local outrage; so the 2-year campaign has moved into direct action, setting up the camp and organising high-profile stunts to embarrass the council and the 'developers'. Further action details to follow...
Activists from all over the country have been warmly invited by the campaigners to come down to the camp and spend days, weeks or months; or even to pop in for a cuppa on your travels.
Environmental activists have occupied land in the middle of Cheltenham where the Liberal council want to build yet more superstores and car parks. The council have ignored strong local opposition to one of England's biggest developments. The St James/Market St development has been opposed at every stage of the planning process. 883 objections were made, which should have resulted in a public enquiry, but each objection has been ignored, misrepresented or ridiculed.
Local people are keen to see houses built on this town centre brownfield site, but their wishes have been disregarded in favour of John Lewis (Waitrose) and Morrisons. Local people are angry because their children will lose the only playing field in the area, shared between the community and two schools. The council will also have Cheltenham lose:
The council has given permission for two new roads, 1500 car parking spaces, a supermarket, a drive through fast food restaurant, a 10 screen cinema shed, a petrol station, a nightclub, a bowling alley, a theme pub and a private health and fitness centre. Cheltenham already has all these things, including 7 cinema screens and many supermarkets.
On 19 July activists occupied woodland on the site and began building treehouses. Toytown Camp also has a compost toilet, covered kitchen, office and benders. We invite people to come and build more treehouses, support the local opposition, help with activities with the young people who use the woodland as a play area, and build a permaculture garden. We still need climbing equipment, polyprop rope, tarps, building wood, vegan food, TOYS and money. All contributions will help, however small.
Contact the Camp Cheltenham's really easy to get to - a convenient pitstop between North and South: Just off the A40 junction of the M5, then a short bus ride into the middle of town. Ask anybody for the St James' site or the protest camp.
Toytown Camp The Old Village
Great Western Road
Glos GL50 3QN
Camp mobile: 0797 131 6597
Phone Box (leave ringing for ages): 01242 525280
website: http://come.to/toytown email firstname.lastname@example.org snailmail c/o Cheltenham EF!, 16 Portland Street, Cheltenham GL52 2PB 316597