15 November 2000
Fuel protest leader resigns

By Johann Tasker

FUEL protest leader and farmer David Handley has resigned as chairman of the Peoples Fuel Lobby following demonstrations in London and Edinburgh.

Mr Handley said he was stepping down after his wife urged him to spend more time on his farm. He will continue as chairman of Farmers For Action.

Demonstrations by Farmers For Action had proved that protests by farmers could help change government policy, Mr Handley told Farmers Weekly.

Recent fuel protests which the group helped organise had pressured Chancellor Gordon Brown into freezing duty on farm diesel, he added.

Mr Handley will now embark on a series of high-level talks with government officials and supermarket bosses in a bid to get a better deal for farmers.

Negotiations with Asda Wal-Mart in a bid to secure higher milk prices for producers are due to take place on Thursday (16 November).

Talks with ministers will follow, said Mr Handley. “Obviously we will carry on keeping up the pressure on the fuel issue and we wont be backing off.”

“We have proved we are an organisation in our own right and we now have the doors open to government which others said we would never ever achieve.”

Mr Handley said further direct action over fuel prices and farming issues would be unlikely if the talks make progress, at least until the New Year.

But he warned: “If we find that people arent listening – or above all not acting – then Farmers For Action will be back out there in the firing line.

“That is what we do best. Make no bones about it.”