Saturday, April 13, 2013

The' Wild Horses' of Newbury

The maze carved into Solsbury Hill to remember the widening of the A46 Batheaston road.
There has been so much news about the death of Maggie Thatcher, that perhaps I should not write about it, and I will not, but there is a political aspect of her tenure that I got involved with 20 odd years ago as a member of the Green Party.  It brings to the fore in my mind the legacy of what she has left behind. Bath the town in which I lived, is, always was, a liberal place, we had Chris Patten (conservative) for our member of parliament, he lived outside Bath in a glorious rural village  called I think Conkwell, it overlooked the beautiful valley of the Avon.
He was brought down as many would remember by the infamous Poll Tax. Belonging to the Green party at the time I was roped in to hold our banner beneath him as he made his speech on the steps of the Guildhall in Bath to the many hundreds of protesters that stood in the dark.  We had made sure that there were wardens to hold back the crowds and deal with the more violent protesters coming from Bristol, so an orderly group.  The day before I had been in the Guildhall Market and noted well dressed security men inspecting every inch of the place, seemed so strange for this peaceful tourist city that it sent a cold shiver down my spine. Next day driving past to the speech at night, passed Victoria Park; parked were two large coaches full of helmeted policeman who were lit up by the lights in the coaches, it was surreal!
There was not much trouble, the protest went off and the consequences were to be felt and we ended up with no Poll Tax.
I liked Chris Patten, but he was voted out in the next election and Bath ended up with Don Foster the Liberal candidate still in the seat today.  One of the things that also happened around this time was the Solsbury Hill campaign against the widening of the Batheaston A46 and which I wrote about here, in fact this road widening scheme was to go across the river and through the Avon valley, this plan has never gone through though and the destruction has never been implemented, and I expect Patten would have been happy as well.  The heavy handed security that had been seen at the Newbury Pass scheme, and note the behaviour of the two'wild' horses in the video below, was also to be found at this widening scheme and can be found in the many photographs taken at the time.  It halted road building for a while and changed the government thinking on transport.

And so to the video of the Wild Horses of Newbury, amateurish, hand held, with a naive voiceover, and all those 'terrible' protestors that receive so much harrassment in the likes of the Daily Mail, etc, the young fought the cause and lost, the horses are but a romantic image in their efforts to stop the felling of the two giant oaks, but look at those yellow coated men, this was Thatcher's England at the time!  The Wild Horses of Newbury  

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