Monday, 1 November 2010

Devonport Blockade 13 Arrested

Thirteen people were arrested during an anti-nuclear demonstration outside Plymouth's Royal Naval base today.

More than 100 people from campaign group Trident Ploughshares began "blockading" the main gates at Devonport before 0600 GMT. Some lay down across the road, while others chained or glued themselves together. A small group of protesters also got on to Drake's Island at the mouth of the dockyard in Plymouth Sound. The main road outside the dockyard was closed to traffic for about two hours and workers had to go in on foot.

Trident Ploughshares said it was expressing an "unambiguous message of opposition" to the UK's Trident nuclear weapon system.

Protester Shirley Law said: "Radiation and people don't mix and to have something like a Trident refitting programme in a city of 250,000 people is a bad idea."

By 7am today the group had successfully blockaded Albert Gate and Camel's Head gate.

CND UK said a police van had been made 'part of the protest' after a number of people climbed underneath it and refused to come out. Some protesters are believed to have glued themselves together.

Plymouth Moorview MP Alison Seabeck said she had "some sympathy" with the protest, but getting rid of Trident was not the answer. "In a perfect world I wouldn't want nuclear weapons - I really wouldn't want them. However, we're not in a perfect world. There are risks and I therefore support the continuation of Trident."

David Wildman of the Plymouth Green Party said he was supporting the event. "Where's the logic in having nuclear weapons in a city of a quarter of a million people?" Mr Wildman said.

John Chapman, who is the landlord of the Royal Naval Arms opposite HMS Drake, said: "The majority of people outside Plymouth disagree with the nuclear work but the majority of people living here don't mind. They wouldn't live here if they felt that way."

A spokesman at the naval base said in a free and democratic country people had a right to protest.

There were a few "minor" scuffles, but Devon and Cornwall Police said the demonstration had been mostly "peaceful and good natured".

On its website, Trident Ploughshares states Plymouth is becoming known as the 'Sellafield of the South West' because of its involvement with nuclear submarine refits, maintenance and upgrades.

A police spokesman said more than 10 people were arrested for public order offences.

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