They pledged to try and prosecute the developers for their illegal behaviour on the day of destruction. They also decided to campaign to create a new space to replace the lost wildlife area.
Shortly before 8am this morning Tuesday 18th November 2003, bulldozers moved in to clear trees on a piece of land adjacent to Princes Park, Toxteth,known locally as Park Nook. Contracters from McDermott Developements, Burnley intend to build a block of flats on the area.
Shortly after the contracters appeared on the scene protesters started to arrive and invade the site in brave attempts to stop the destruction. Security Guards employed by Sentinel Management removed protesters from the site by dragging and pushing them and one protester was injured when security guards turned violent. Security guards hurriedly attempted to construct a safety fence around the felling area 45 minutes AFTER felling had begun and even as the fence was almost erected the driver of one of the two diggers pushed over a stand of trees close to the fence line sending branches and splinters of wood over the barrier towards security and protesters. When challenged the JCB driver replied, "It's alright for me, I'm a Manc I f*cking hate Scousers!"
Security guards who had grown up in the area were challenged by their peers who had come out to protest. One woman found one of her neighbours as a security guard and asked him, " Why are you doing this, this (development)is just for rich people, we walk in this park for free, we use this area everyday, these are our trees, you're just doing this for the rich." He didn't know and had no answer for her.
Children from the local school came out to join the protest, shouting, "Get out , this is our area." and taking photographs with their mobile phones.
Unfortunately all the trees that contracters planned to remove have now been felled. Several of the trees on the perifery of the site are covered by tree protection orders and protesters were dismayed to see the aforementioned JCB driver crash into one of them, removing a large lateral limb. We will have to wait and see if there will be a fine for the contractors to pay. Protesters have pledged to continue their protest on the land to prevent the flats being built.
The Park Nook site has been under threat for several years, it is a small piece of woodland on the edge of Princes park in Toxteth and provides an inportant wildlife haven for foxes, bats and nesting birds. It is also a piece of land which has used by local residents for many years for dog walking, picnicking and playing. Four years ago a planning application was drawn up to build luxury flats on the area, this was contested and a protest camp set up. An application was also made to preserve Park Nook with Town Green status for the use of all the local residents. Unfortunateley this failed but a combination of delaying tactics and the cost of trying to remove protesters made the builing of the flats un economic for the original construction company and they sold up. Let's see if for the new owners, it, once more, will be un ecomomic to try and build on Park Nook.