13 November 2000
Fuel protest at Smithfield?

By FWi staff

BRITAINs premier indoor farming event could be the scene a major protest against fuel tax, a leading demonstrator has hinted.

This warning came from Andrew Spence, an organiser of the go-slow convoy travelling from Tyneside to London in protest at duty on petrol and diesel.

Speaking to the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today programme, the farmer from Consett, County Durham, denied reports that support was waning.

And he indicated that a protest will take place at the Royal Smithfield Show at Earls Court in London, which runs 26-29 November.

Asked if something had been planned for the countrys biggest indoor farming event, Mr Spence replied “possibly”, but refused to elaborate on this.

But he agreed that dialogue was the best way forward, and said farm minister Nick Brown had been “very positive” in discussions.

Meanwhile, the Ananova website reported on Monday morning campaigners were awaiting police permission for the latest leg of their journey.

It said 20 hauliers and farmers and 10 car drivers were at a truckstop near Rugby, Warwickshire.

Protesters are still hoping to reach London on Tuesday (14 November) when a march and rally in Hyde Park are planned.

In another development, Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon has insisted that security concerns over possible terrorist infiltration of the convoy are “real”.

This came after it emerged a massive car bomb discovered in Belfast was destined for London, reports Ananova

On Friday (10 November) police warned that they would form a massive exclusion zone around London to stop fuel protesters entering the city centre.

Meanwhile, the Sunday People newspaper claims that Peoples Fuel Lobby chairman David Handley is cashing in on the protests.

It says the farmer has set up a 1-per-minute helpline. Mr Handley says money raised will be used in the fuel campaign and the next election.

The original 60-day deadline for tax cuts finally expired on Monday (13 November).