Council again attempt to move Chris Drake from the Square
Friday, 14 July 2017
Many thanks to Michael Prior for this News item
Calderdale Council is again attempting to move Chris Drake, the protestor who displays posters concerning Palestinian rights in St George's Square.
Chris Drake claims assault by man from council
According to Ms. Drake, on Wednesday, 12 July, a man wearing a yellow, high-vis jacket with the words Calderdale Council on the back approached Ms. Drake and handed her a letter which he insisted she read. On reading it, she asserted that the second paragraph was untrue and went for a tea. In her absence, there man started to remove the poster tied to a waste-bin. Ms. Drake objected and in the altercation which followed, Ms. Drake claims the man assaulted her. She then sat down on her pavement poster and refused to move.
At first, police ignore allegation
A community policeman arrived and in the following discussion, Ms. Drake repeated her claim of assault to the policeman. The policeman then appeared to discuss something at some distance with the ‘man in yellow high-vis jacket’ who remained unidentified. He later told Ms. Drake in the hearing of several witnesses that she was liable to be prosecuted. Ms. Drake again reported the allegation of assault to the policeman and has subsequently received a crime investigation number.
Letter cloned from one two years ago
The letter she received is dated 7 July and is signed by Andrew Pitts, Head of Neighbourhoods. The wording of the letter is almost identical with that sent in 27 August, 2015 to Ms Drake this time signed by Mark Thompson, Director, Economy and Environment though it omits the reference to Hebden Bridge being “a quirky, arty place”.
It is a matter of observation that on Wednesday as on many months in the past, Ms. Drake’s posters have been confined to one side of a waste-bin and one side of the adjoining lamppost unlike the situation in 2015 when she accepts that she did adorn other parts of the Square with poster and flags.
On Thursday, 13 July, the same man approached Ms. Drake with another letter, which identified him as Highways Enforcement Officer Mr. M Smith. This letter asserted that “You then confronted the officer and obstructed his attempts to carry out this duty. [to remove items on street furniture] The material was then snatched from him and you positioned yourself in a sit down protest upon the material affixed to the highway surface.”
The letter goes on to assert that “the Authority will continue in its efforts to prevent your continued use of the public highway and its structures, contrary to the Highways act (sic) 1980. This may include both legal action and further direct action to remove the items displayed inappropriately.”
Posters 'stolen' by council
After giving this letter to Ms Drake, Mr. Smith attempted to remove items including the Palestinian flag and succeeded in making off with two posters. Ms. Drake has told Hebweb that she asked the police some weeks ago whether anyone was entitled to take her posters and was told that this would be theft as they were her possessions.
The major items of street furniture on the Square are the tables and chairs of the three cafes which operate there. They have what are known as Pavement Café Licences to carry out this activity and, based on information received by Hebweb from the Calderdale Licensing Unit, they broadly adhere to these. On Friday, 14 July, there were 6 other advertising items placed on the Square and one advertising item permanently fixed to a street bollard.
Ms. Drake insists that she will continue to carry out her protest.
At present she is in the Square for three, sometimes four times a week from 12 until 3 pm.