'Fab four' protesters of Newark Library/London Road carpark tree site call on district councillors to vote for last-minute deal with landowner
The 'fab four' who refused to leave the Newark tree protest site until a last-minute deal was reached and the trees about to be chopped are calling on the council to 'do the right thing' and vote for the agreement.
Despite police orders to leave and threatened with arrest, campaigners Ali Carter, 53, Darrell Pointing, 76, Wendy Patterson, 64, and Pam Ball, 60, stood their ground beside Newark Library inside the metal fence council contractors erected around them — even spending a cold and damp night.
The four said they were doing the right thing by shielding the four at-risk trees from the district council's plan to destroy them and extend London Road carpark.
After many, many hours of campaigners refusing to leave and with chainsaws at the ready, Newark and Sherwood District Council deputy leader Keith Girling visited the site to make the announcement that a last-minute deal with the landowner had come about.
Mr Girling said the offer made by Dan Derry was very generous and that Mr Derry would take a substantial financial hit.
Now, the 'fab four' are urging Newark and Sherwood district councillors to unanimously vote to save the space and trees.
The vote will be taken at an extraordinary full council meeting at Castle House, which is to be arranged.
Mr Girling said he would vote to save the trees and hoped others would too.
Darrell Pointing said: “I was very ill with bowel cancer seven years ago and, lying in my hospital bed, I promised myself that if I survived I would campaign to improve the environment for my children and grandchildren.
"That is why I stayed with the trees. Now I call on the council to do the right thing too."
Ali Carter added: “I ask the council to save our Library garden as their contribution to tackling climate emergency.”
After leaving the site, knowing it was likely to be saved, the final four welcomed the offer.
Pamela Ball said: “I would like to thank Dan Derry, not only for myself but for my young grandchildren and all the other children who will now be able to continue using one of our last remaining town centre green spaces.
"This space could have a real purpose now and continue to be enjoyed for generations to come.”
Fellow campaigner Emma Oldham, who organised several protests at the site, said community spirit had ultimately won the day.
“The people of Newark are the true heroes in this story,” she said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Tremendous generosity, unity, passion and awareness now ripples through the community of Newark.
"This positive turnaround couldn’t have happened without it.”
The petition by Protect Newark's Green Spaces is now more than 5,000 signatures strong, making it the biggest ever petition to Newark and Sherwood District Council's.
Liberal Democrats on Newark and Sherwood District Council have expressed their relief with the outcome.
They said: "We wish to express our great relief that agreement appears to have been reached between the council and Datch Properties, which avoids the felling of several mature trees and the tarmacking of green space next to Newark library and allows the area to continue to be enjoyed and used by local people.
"Being timed at the end of the COP26 conference, it is good to know that environmental considerations have won out over short-term financial difficulties.
"Many people from various political persuasions and many local people without political affiliation have contributed to the groundswell of opinion, which made this last-minute reprieve possible and everyone who has lobbied, commented and protested peacefully should be congratulated.
"Needless to say, we (Peter Harris and Malcom Brock) will both be voting to approve this deal at the forthcoming extraordinary full council meeting.
"In the longer term there will, in our view, need to be an examination of the past discussions and decisions made, which resulted in this difficult situation arising.
"As indicated by Keith Girling, mistakes have been made and it is vital to learn from those mistakes to prevent re-occurrence. High drama situations, while newsworthy, are not the way to implement Green policies in our district and the risks of confrontation and physical harm are real.
"It should not have been necessary for several brave members of the community to camp out overnight to ensure the protection of this space, for example. We look forward to being part of the ongoing discussions and working with other councillors to ensure that Newark and Sherwood truly does become more Green."