Some tents were already put up but not all; the Schnews tent was used for people like us arriving after dark, when it is difficult to set up our own tents.
After “sleeping” in this communal tent, having been waken up various times during the night by the freezing weather, we attended our first breakfast meeting. Not many people, but working groups were already defined; press/media group, internal communications group, land group, transport group...
A to do list was drawn up – to sort out the recycling points, the compost toilets, the fire points, the bigger tents, the gaps in the fence ... by the end of the day, most of these things were crossed off done.
By Wednesday night most of the tents up including the press tent and the info point.
Meetings happen twice a day, after/during breakfast and after dinner. Before any agenda is drawn up, we go through the to do list from the previous meeting, check what is done and what else need to be done, and we go through the different working groups, each reporting what they have done since the last meeting, communicating their needs, and presenting what needs to be decided by the whole site.
The land is rented this time, which means we have had to compromise in various points, like, we are being careful not to obstruct the road next to which we stand, which means all the tents including the press tent need to be on site, even though no mainstream journalists are allowed in at any time. Interviews are carried out in that tent only, and photographing and videoing are not allowed other than inside that tent, although, of course, both journalists and cops have been seen taking images of the camp through the various gaps on the fence, which the security group is working on closing.
The group that is liaising with the cops agreed to allow one on site on Tuesday, and they have stated that they will not want to enter the site again. However these conversations are going on only with the local police. The Forward Intelligence Team from London is also outside the gate taking images from any one and although there is some mild harassment of the people doing security, and there is no communications between FIT and local police or camp teams, they are not stopping or searching people entering or leaving the camp.
Another compromise is that dogs can not be allowed on site. It was one of the conditions of the rent agreement.
The site itself is very nice, and the weather ... well, it could be worse. If you are coming, do bring very warm clothes and be prepared to be wet. The nights are specially cold and although rain is not pouring, it is generally wet.
There are roughly hourly shuttle buses to pick up people from the train station at Balcombe, and about two or three shuttles a day fro the station at Salfords, for people who may not have learnt in time about the change of sites. Balcombe is about 2 miles away from the camp so it is worth phoning from there 07934 760 617 or 07949 790 570 to get a lift if you have a heavy back pack. And if you can drive, and would like to help out with the shuttles, bring your driving license together with some proof of address, or passport, or a debit card so that you can drive one of the shuttle vans.
Once you arrive you should go to the info tent where you will be presented with a welcome pack that you are strongly advised to read.
Now, get off the internet, see you at the camp!!