Dont Criminalise Trespass Debate-25th January

”Write to your MP – ask them to attend the debate on trespass 

Thanks to the 134,000 of you who signed our petition, ‘Don’t criminalise trespass’, MPs will debate this issue in Parliament. The Petitions Committee have scheduled a debate in Westminster Hall for Monday 25th January 2021. To speak, MPs have to register with the Speaker of the House by Friday 22nd January. It’s vital we get MPs attending representing your views.

Please contact your MP using and adapting the template email below. You can look up your MP and their email address on the Parliament website here. Remember to include your postcode when you send your email, to show you’re a constituent, otherwise they won’t have to respond.

Template email for you to adapt and send to your MP:

Dear ____MP,

Subject: Don’t criminalise trespass – please register to attend the Petitions Committee debate on 25th January

As your constituent, I’m very concerned by the Government’s proposals to criminalise trespass. Together with over 134,000 other people, I signed this Parliamentary petition to oppose the criminalisation of trespass (here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/300139). If you follow the link, you can click through to a map showing how many other of your constituents also care deeply about this. 

The petition is now scheduled for a Petitions Committee debate in Westminster Hall on Monday 25th January 2021 at 4.30pm, and I would like you to attend to represent my concerns. Please register to take part in the debate with the Speaker of the House by Friday 22nd January.

I’m concerned because criminalising trespass would be an extreme, illiberal and unnecessary attack on ancient freedoms that would threaten ramblers who stray from the path, wild campers, Travellers, peaceful protestors and the wider public keen to enjoy nature. Fear of criminalisation may even deter amateur naturalists from carrying out wildlife surveys, as some scientists have warned.

Access to nature is vital for everyone’s physical and mental health – something lockdown demonstrated vividly. Last year’s exceptional spring, combined with the coronavirus regulations, meant many people stopped to observe and experience nature in ways they hadn’t since childhood. With restrictions on overseas travel, many more people enjoyed their summer holidays in the British countryside. Sales of camping equipment have soared; British Canoeing has seen a 40% jump in membership; and National Parks have seen huge numbers of visitors from sections of the population who’ve never visited them before.

Criminalising trespass would create a massive chilling effect on visits to the countryside. Many people are already put off visiting rural Britain through unfamiliarity, poor transport links, existing civil trespass laws and a general sense that they don’t belong or aren’t welcome in the countryside. Such feelings are multiplied greatly for Black, Asian and ethnic minority Britons.

Criminalising trespass isn’t just draconian, it’s completely unnecessary. Landowners who wish to sue trespassers can already do so via the courts. Police forces have stated they don’t want or need any additional powers to deal with unauthorised encampments, whether by Travellers or protestors (see https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/14/police-oppose-traveller-and-gypsy-camp-crackdown-foi-shows). Gypsies and Travellers are already amongst the most marginalised communities in the UK, and criminalising trespass or increasing police powers of eviction would compound the inequalities they experience.

Criminalising trespass is opposed by numerous access and environment groups, from the Ramblers and British Mountaineering Council to CPRE and the British Horse Society, who wrote to the Home Secretary earlier this year urging her to reconsider the proposals (see https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/rethink-trespass-law-ramblers-urge-priti-patel-8ghgj3m8n). It is also opposed across party lines: the chair of the Conservative Environment Network, Ben Goldsmith, wrote an article in the Telegraph this Autumn calling on the Government to drop plans to criminalise trespass (see https://www.telegraph.co.uk/environment/2020/10/22/ben-goldsmith-calls-government-drop-plans-criminalise-trespass/). 

The Petitions Committee has scheduled a debate on this subject for Monday 25th January. I’m therefore calling on you as my representative to please attend the debate, and to relay my concerns and those shared by people up and down the country.

Yours sincerely,

[Your name and postcode]”

taken from: https://www.righttoroam.org.uk/mpletter

Unrecorded historical public Rights of Way will be erased from January 2026

From the 1st of January 2026 unrecorded bridlepaths and footpaths created before 1949 on Government registered maps will ceased to be recognised as valid routes.

With Big Brother -esque logic, the government classifies this erasure as a simplification (1). This quiet legislation is a thinly veiled attempt to further restrict the public from rights of way, stopping places and access to their countryside.

The action group nfAT, (No Fixed Abode Travellers) emphasises that byways, stopping places and common land have little community campaign support (2). This erasure will have often unvoiced implications for the nomadic traveller community when any unrecorded rights of way are lost to those who wish traverse them. This policy, although seemingly slight on its own, is further erosion to and marginalisation of the traveller lifestyle being possible to achieve lawfully.

The Government press release on the plans clearly iterates their priorities for land access once old paths are erased from the records; “no redundant routes and unsubstantiated rights of way claims will be prevented from getting in the way of farming and business interests(3)”. Such a disgusting statement emphasises the capitalist ideology that land is another marketable resource. Business is first and foremost, pesky people out of their place just get in the way. These “redundant routes” are ancient trails of a lost Albion, ever more out of reach with policies such as these that seek to divorce us forever from connection with our land.

Of course this ties in with the more pressing issue of the impending criminalisation of trespass, due to be discussed in Parliament on the 25th of January 2021. Should this bill go through these rights of way will be all the more important for those wish to make safe passage through private lands legally.

The next 5 years will go fast, we must try to record as many of these lost trails as possible. Many groups are already making headway with tracking them, check out some links below to get involved.

Add to the map through the ramblers site: https://www.ramblers.org.uk/dontloseyourway

https://www.bhs.org.uk/our-work/access/campaigns/2026

More detail on the legislation: https://www.oss.org.uk/what-do-we-fight-for/footpaths-rights-of-way/the-deregulation-act/

nfAT: https://nfats1.wixsite.com/nfatscollective/campaigns

Relevant article: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/feb/11/walkers-urged-to-help-save-historic-footpaths-before-2026-deadline

1 https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-plans-to-simplify-recording-rights-of-way

2 https://nfats1.wixsite.com/nfatscollective/campaigns

3 https://nfats1.wixsite.com/nfatscollective/campaigns

Rave Aid Crew-Harm Reduction

‘Hi everyone.

We are Rave Aid Crew. Covid-19 has caused all of our venues and nightclubs to close. As a result, there has been resurgence in illegal events, free parties and raves across the UK.

We do not condone or condemn illegal events or drug use. However, we are realistic: both these things will inevitably happen, and it is important that there is a harm reduction response when they do. There is a large team of experienced welfare volunteers ready to dedicate their time and energy to keeping ravers safe.

Currently, there is no harm reduction response to illegal raves in the UK. The level of drug use is typically above and beyond what you would find at a mainstream festival, and our response must be tailored with this in mind. Partnering with Chill-Villainz, a new grassroots free party-focussed welfare service, we aim to change this.’

Some of our messaging is quite different than what other harm reduction organisations normally say. This is on purpose: messaging suitable for someone who is taking their first pill at a festival has to be very different to messaging suitable for people who typically take 4+ different drugs over the course of a 48-hour bender. In order to keep people engaged our advice must be realistic to their patterns of drug use, and not appear condescending.’

from: https://www.talkingdrugs.org/fundraiser-drugs-info-rave-aid-crew

check out the PDF: https://pdfhost.io/v/FjkVBxOs8_Rave_Aid_Crew_drugs_info_finalpdf.pdf

Saving the Oaks – Sydenham Wood

Down the long trail of Cox’s walk that traces the outer edge of Sydenham Hill Wood in South East London, lie two much contested oak trees. Both 100 years old, they are still considered young in the huge potential life span of an ancient oak. Each tree holds a magnitude of life, an entire ecosystem in itself. Insects, fungi, birds, all manner of creatures and plants all interact symbiotically with these mature trees. The intricate system of nature hosted by a tree of such an age is irreplacable.

However, the future of this mighty pair of oaks is under grave threat. Southwark Council has plans to fell both trees in order make way for the repairs to a footbridge that falls between them. The community group has demonstrated how felling of the trees can be averted in alternative plans to repair the footbridge. Insisting that infact the destruction of the trees will increase the the instability of the land around the bridge further undermining safe passage. The council have responded to the group saying the doomed future of the trees is unavoidable and pushed the development plans through.

On Monday morning of the 16thNovember, the fellers were turned away by one brave lady refusing to move from infront of the trees. Since, there has been no further attempts to continue the planned works and committed members from the community group have maintained a 24/7 presence on site. Despite growing petition numbers, media attention and pleas to the council, the ultimate barrier to these works will be this direct protection from those who are willing to take the matter in to their own hands. 

The latest move from Southwark to evict the community group is the application for a court injunction which will make physical presence on site an offence. The coming days will decide the dicey future of these trees but physical presence on site, injuction or not, will no doubt be crucial. There is only a week left until the planning application goes through manditory reconsideration so this final push to keep guard of the oaks must hold fast. Get down there to support if you can. 

https://www.facebook.com/SaveOaks

UPDATE

Since the previous post, there have been some very positive developments regarding the oak trees in Sydenham woods. Firstly, the high court judge REJECTED the application for an injunction! After this, the occupiers held fast for further week until Southwark Council’s planning permission lapsed on the 3rd of December. This means the application must be reapplied for before the trees can be lawfully felled. Victory!!!

NANTES BITES BACK UNDERGROUND RESISTANCE 11, 12, 13/09/20

Over the weekend around Nantes, the free party community held a series of festivities in reaction to the violent state repression of the scene. Friday commenced with a solidarity demo outside the central courthouse in Nantes. The demo was held in solidarity with a truck driver from a previous street party in memory of Steve, (a raver murdered by cops in Nantes). With symbolic lunacy, the court was accusing the driver of using a soundsystem as a weapon. The case made evident how much of a threat soundsystem culture is to state control. The driver was later found not guilty.

(Mural for Steve by the docks in Nantes)

All through Friday, news was trickling through that emergency legal restrictions were being put in place all through the region exclusively for this weekend to put a stop to any kind of musical gathering. Groups of more than 6 people were made illegal, vehicles over 3 ½ tonnes carrying sound equipment banned and the sale of any off licence alcohol prohibited. As we entered the city we experienced this kind of hostile environment through heavy police presence. There were patrols searching and questioning any suspect vehicles.

The demo was followed by a moving street party in the evening accompanied by a portable sound system, instruments and an enthused crowd. The moving mass swept through the busy touristic area and attracted more to the procession. The central point held a sustained crowd, which was dispersed a few hours in, riot cops throwing tear gas and seizure of the trailer soundsystem. The riot cops continued to charge and fling tear gas grenades. In an area full of bars and restaurants, people unassocaited with the demo also had to flee for safety. People slowly disappated as the night went on, but the day’s events were not yet over as many headed straight to the party scheduled for the evening.

(placard reads: “let us dance!”)

The conovy, hundreds long, left around half midnight with next to no police presence at the meeting point. After driving round multiple entry points, vehicles were efficiently escorted in to various parking fields. The gendarmerie were actually forced to help escort party goers on to the site due to the sheer numbers of vehicles so close to busy highways. The location was ideal, being so close to Nantes many people were cycling and taking public transport.

The party went strong over the weekend, with multiple crews coming together to build a heavy wall of sound. Despite the minimal police presence onsite, there was an attempted seizure. However, people power averted this as crowds managed to escort the police out. Around 2000 people attended and many remained on site in to Monday. The weekend sent out a clear message, our sound is stronger than their repression. There were frequent drones and low flying helicopters roaring over head but all drowned out by the thumping heart of the party. By Sunday, the police had gained controlled of the exits, searching some vehicles, testing drivers and asking for papers. On the whole though, it was fairly relaxed for party goers to vacate the area.

Despite state measures to prevent the weekend’s events, all were carried out confidently with mass attendence. Every act of defiance creates deeper cracks in their control. Free party for free people. 

UPDATE

Hope everyone is as happy and healthy as they can be in these turbulent times. We are sad to have not made it out this summer to our usual run of festivals and events. Instead, we have taken this time to reflect and grow, working on plans for next season and hoping to have more of a presence in the upcoming months. Watch this space for updates! Look out for one another. With love, screwthis xxxx

GAF WEEK OF ACTION

After creating a symbolic platform through squatting Paddington Green Police Station (evicted today) the people of the Green AntiCapitalist Front are holding a week of action. Get involved this week with workshops, talks, film screenings, actions and join the rally on Friday!