3:45pm Thursday 23rd January 2014
By Kate Wilson
PLACARD waving protestors are as much a part of the Stroud architecture as the Subscription Rooms or the Slad Valley.
Stroudies are a passionate bunch and the citizens of this town have a history of protest going back to the Stroudwater Riots of 1825.
Here is a list of the top 10 issues Stroudies are most likely to take to the streets over so next time you see someone waving a placard in the high street you have a better understanding as to what they are upset about.
1. Javelin Park incinerator
A number of anti-incinerator campaign groups have been launched since the announcement of plans to build a £500 million waste-burning plant at the Javelin Park site back in 2012. After numerous protests and 4,000 public objections to the scheme Gloucestershire County Council’s planning committee unanimously threw out the plans in March last year. However, the firm behind the scheme, Urbaser Balfour Beatty, appealed the decision and currently a planning inquiry is taking place to decide whether the council’s decision will stick. So for now the fight continues.
2. Stroud Steiner Free School
As an application for a Steiner Free School in Stroud has only just been submitted to the Department of Education there has yet to be a full scale protest through the streets of Stroud. This has not stopped objectors to the plans taking every opportunity to express their views in the newspaper and on the website. Although it’s still early days for this issue look out for numerous protests to come.
If there is any issue that could cause a protest without fail it’s housing. For Stroudies – who are proud that the Stroud Valley is considered an Area of Natural Beauty – nothing makes their blood boil more than the threat of houses being built on green spaces. Slad Valley Action Group, Mankley Field Action Group and Rodborough Fields Preservation Group are just some of the protest groups which have popped up over housing in the last few years.
4. Store Wars
Stroud has a strong community of independent shops and cafés which provide the mainstay of the retail experience in the town. And when this independence is threatened by big supermarket chains a protest is likely to occur. In the last year alone supermarket giants ASDA and Morrisons have submitted planning applications to build stores in Stroud as well as an unknown store which is planned for Ryeford.
5. Farmers’ market
Stallholders were in uproar after the district council announced controversial plans to put the town’s award-winning farmers’ market out to tender. However, after mounting pressure to withdraw the tender after 2,000 members of the public signed a petition against the move SDC decided to scrap the plans. It has now come to light that the council still plans to push forward with the tendering process and I am sure the public will continue to push forward with the protesting.
This year it was the threat of military intervention in Syria, but only a few years ago it was the prospect of going to war with Iraq. Whatever the country and whatever the issue if the word ‘war’ is mentioned expect a protest shortly afterwards.
7. Badger Cull
Nothing upsets a Stroudie more than a threat to wildlife hence when the badger cull started in Gloucestershire last summer anti-cull protestors patrolled the cull zones at night in an attempt to stop badgers being killed.
8. Privatisation of the NHS
Cuts to the NHS causes protests nationwide so unsurprisingly when Stroud General Hospital was threatened in 2011 as a result of Government cuts it wasn’t long before demonstrators picked up placard and megaphone to save their local services.
If a controversial issue is causing uproar across the country be sure that there are a group of people in Stroud wrangling support for a protest. Frack Free Five Valleys is the latest protest group to launch in the town and had its first demonstration in the high street this month.
10. Anything to do with the Post Office
Regardless of whether it’s closing a branch or reducing the opening hours be sure that no change to post office facilities goes unmissed and the citizens of Stroud will make their displeasure known.
Not all of Stroud’s protests have been successful and despite their best efforts Tesco opened a store near Stratford Park in 1989, McDonald's built a fast food restaurant at Rowcroft in 2005 and soon after the bus station was replaced with a cinema.
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