Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

News Shorts & Other Busyness

Road-Building HQs Occupied

Squall 9, Jan/Feb 1995, pg. 8

Office occupations have become a new and imaginative feature of the road-protesters’ itinerary.

In mid-January a planned non-violent invasion of the British Road Federation offices on the Old Kent Road, was thwarted when protesters turned up to find riot police waiting for them. After adjourning for a cup of tea and a re-think, they decided to pay a visit to the Highways Agency instead. This organisation carries out the Government’s road-building programme, as well as managing the existing road network.

The protesters walked straight into the building, and whilst some of them unfurled a ‘Bulldozing R Future’ banner from the building, others made their way to Chief Executive Lawrie Hayne’s office. Mr Haynes was actually in residence at the time and made a

desperately nonchalant attempt to carry on as normal as several protesters sat in his office, some of them playing penny-whistles.

At one point Haynes left the room in order to find out what was taking the police so long to show up. During his absence, the protesters answered his telephone calls, telling the callers that “the Highways Agency had decided to concentrate on Bicycle lanes from now on, having seen the error of their environmentally unfriendly ways”. Normal uniformed police did arrive but simply told the protesters not to use any electricity as this would lead to charges of theft. In order to comply more fully, one protester turned out the lights, testing Lawrie’s nonchalance still further. Eventually the riot police arrived and the protesters were escorted from the office peacefully.

A couple of weeks later the protesters paid another visit to the British Road Federation’s Elephant and Castle offices. After occupying the office for a short period, they then climbed onto the roof of the building to unfold banners proclaiming a change of name for the BRF

establishment. ‘British Redundant Follies’, announced one, ‘Breathing Rancid Fumes’, suggested another.

In sharp contrast to the lines of riot police present at the British Road Federation offices a few weeks earlier, there were only a few policeman this time around and, after escorting the office-occupiers off the premises, they left the protesters on the roof to come down in their own good time.


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For a menu of many other Squall articles about the Anti-Roads Movement, including protest camps, Reclaim The Streets and more click here