A peaceful demo will be held outside Chester Magistrates Court this Friday (September 9) in support of nine activists arrested during the eviction of Upton anti-fracking camp, including a borough councillor.
Labour councillor Matt Bryan, who represents Upton on Cheshire West and Chester Council , is among the accused but protests his innocence in relation to a charge of obstructing/resisting a constable in the execution of their duty.
Cllr Bryan, 29, of Kings Crescent West, Chester, is believed to have been apprehended after allegedly climbing on top of a cherry picker about to be used as part of the January 12 clearance operation carried out by bailiffs at Duttons Lane supported by police.
All nine defendants are due at this Friday’s case management hearing but face a trial, currently listed during the week beginning October 17, after pleading not guilty.
Energy firm IGas had intended to set up a coal bed methane test drill at the Upton site but strangely abandoned its plans just three weeks after the eviction, attracting the ire of then Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner John Dwyer who unsuccessfully attempted to recover the £200,000 policing costs.
The protest camp was established in April 2014 on the land earmarked for the drill.
Other defendants are: John Thomas Hall, 50, of George Street, Chester, charged with resisting/obstructing a constable; Amelia Bish, 28, of Horse Hill Protest Camp, Hookwood, Surrey, charged with resisting/obstructing an enforcement officer; Lanner Davis, 24, of Horse Hill Protest Camp, Hookwood, Surrey, charged with resisting/obstructing an enforcement officer; Trky Edward Cairns, 41, of Borras Community Camp, Borras, Wrexham, charged with failing to comply with a section 35 direction excluding a person from an area.
Also charged are: Jamie Douglas Watson, 33, of Belmont Avenue, Ayr, charged with resisting/obstructing an enforcement officer; Louise Hammond, 52, of Cedar Avenue, Scunthorpe, charged with resisting/obstructing an enforcement officer and Richard Burcumshaw, 65, of Oxford Grove, Bolton, charged with assaulting a constable in the execution of his/her duty and section 5 public order and Simon John Stafford-Smith, 38, of Bridge Trafford Community Protection Camp, charged with failing to comply with a section 35 direction excluding a person from an area during an incident alleged to have taken place two days after the camp eviction on January 14.
District Judge Michael Abelson is due to preside over what is expected to be a one-week trial at the city magistrates court. The anti-frackers are appealing for financial contributions from supporters towards travel costs for some of the accused.
The Upton Eviction Court Support Facebook page, posted by Cllr Bryan, reads: “Please chip in what you can. Some of the protectors on trial are coming from Hull, Glasgow and down south and are struggling to find funds to pay for the travel.”