12 September 1999

It sounds as though the Norwich police seem to have taken the City of London post-J18 line that RTS events "must be treated as inherently criminal". But neither the partygoers nor, astonishingly, this local newspaper reporter were having any of it... The comrade who re-typed the following notes that "The free party in Chapelfield gardens went on for some time ... Oh and it was a very big 200 or so (police estimates...)"


Traffic was brought to a standstill and roads closed at the weekend as a demonstration by anti-car protesters caused chaos around Norwich city centre.

Scores of police were drafted in to contain around 200 protesters who blocked a 200 yard stretch of Unthank Road with a carnival on Saturday afternoon.

Police officers formed a cordon around the demonstraters and allowed the street party to continue for 2 1/2 hours before escorting the activists to Chapelfield garderns.

Mounted officers from Nottinghamshire police helped control the protesters and the Norfolk police helicopter circled above.

Motorists faced long tailbacks as roads were closed and traffic diverted from the Chapelfield Road [inner ring road] and Unthank road areas.

The demonstration had been organised by the national pressure group Reclaim the Streets which calls for curbs on traffic and for cities to be made more pedestrian-friendly.

Protester Wesley Woods from Norwich said "City streets have been taken over by cars. We are trying to raise awareness that this does not have to be the case"

Emily Dauncey said "The world is run for the benefit of multi nationals and profit. If profit was not such a big priority we would enjoy ourselves more and there would be less war and famine."

The group's leaflet handed to passers-by said "The struggle for car-free space must not be separated form the struggle against global capitalism, for the former is encapsulated in the latter. The streets are as full of capistalism as of cars and the pollution of capitalism is much more insidious"

Chief Insp Ewing said the police operation had gone as well as could be expected but it had been at a high finacial cost.

He said the police has set out a strategy designed to cause minimum disruption to shoppers and fans attending Norwich City's home game against Crewe. We were not aware of the demonstraters' intentions in terms of where they intended to go" he said. "Inevitably, they had something of an upper hand because they had pre-planned to have their music system at a point we were not privy to. With this type of event you are going to have disruption to motorists and to some residents, we tried to keep that to a minimum"

However Chf Insp Ewing said the cost of policing the event had been "substantial", with officers drafted in from across the country and rest days cancelled.

"We have called on mutual aid from divisions across the force" he added. "That takes operational officers away from their important frontline policing tasks all over the country"

Police said later that one person, a 50 year old man, was arrested for allegedly assulting a police officer and another for an alleged drugs offence.

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