Protesters take to trees to stop contractors

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ANTI-LINK road campaigners were arrested as they tried to stop trees in Sidley being destroyed.

On Monday protesters climbed into trees or stood in the way of workmen with chainsaws who had arrived on Sunday to fell trees along the banks of the disused railway line between London Road and Woodsgate Park.

One of them was Jenny Elliott-Bennett who told the Observer: “This is complete destruction for the purpose of building a link road when a road already exists between Bexhill and Hastings, and that road is perfectly serviceable. Why do we need this link road?”

Jenny, of Rotherfield Avenue, said they felt threatened by the presence of security men there to make sure work went ahead. She claimed one of the group, Denise Berry who is 63, was pulled from a tree and landed on her back with her ankle caught in a lower branch, and an ambulance had to be called to the scene.

Paramedics arrived at Elva Way at 1.30pm and South East Coast Ambulance Service confirmed a patient had fallen some 3/4ft but declined treatment. Sussex Police also attended and later announced four arrests had been made and that a 54-year-old man from Hastings and two women both aged 63 of St Leonards and Rye were cautioned and released, but another woman was charged. Mary Palmer, 60, retired, of Paynton Road, St Leonards, has been accused of aggravated trespass and obstructing a court official, and will appear at Hastings Magistrates’ Court on Monday January 7.

Gabriel Carlyle, spokesman for Combe Haven Defenders which also held protests in Crowhurst, said they were committed to “peaceful resistance” and urged local people to join in.

East Sussex County Council is carrying out preparatory work along the disused railway line with main construction of the road will beginning in the New Year.

A spokesman said: “We are aware of protester activity and will work with security and police where appropriate to ensure these prep works can be carried out in a safe manner.”

Council leader Peter Jones commented: “The road will make it possible to build 1,200-2,000 new homes and business park space of 50,000 square metres; it will facilitate the creation of new jobs and bring economic benefits valued at £1bn. It is for these reasons we believe the road is so important to the area.”