Southend Echo
Wednesday January 17, 2007

Police throw out twenty as dozens more chant outside

Protesters outside Prittlewell Priory
  • Making a point - protesters wave banners and chant outside the ceremony as police keep order
  • 'Blingers' storm dig award bash

    Protesters stormed the celebration of an archaeological award presented to Southend Council for its part in unearthing a Saxon King.

    Campaigners from Camp Bling, who are determined to prevent the council's proposed road-widening scheme at Priory Crescent, forced their way into last night's ceremony at Prittlewell Priory in Priory Park.

    Self-appointed Mayor of Camp Bling, John Smith, adorned with mayoral chain, took the role of Southend Mayor and promised to return the award and withdraw the road plans.

    He said: "I am delighted to announced that we have finally listened to and taken note of the majority of people in Southend who have been shown repeatedly to oppose this scheme."

    'Mayor' John Smith and Tanya and Alana Whybrow
  • Campaign - 'mayor John Smith, left, and Tanya and Alana Whybrow
  • The discovery of the Saxon King took place in autumn 2003 when archaeological investigations, funded by the council, were done.

    Because of this, the council was awarded the British Archaeological Award for Developer Funded Archaeology.

    However, Patsy Link, who joined the demonstrators, said: "Southend Council now has a site to rival the Sutton Hoo ship burial in Suffolk, but still seeks to bury it under 10ft of concrete for the road-widening.

    "To celebrate then destroy it is nothing short of sheer lunacy on the part of the people here tonight at the Priory."

    Tanya Whybrow, 28, of Leigh, said: "We feel very strongly this is the most significant historical discovery in Southend, which the council is receiving a reward for, and then they are going to tarmac over it. It should be saved for everybody."

    Her daughter Alana, seven, added: "They have found something brilliant and then they are going to cover it up."

    Police evicted about 20 protesters who managed to get access to the building while about 80 more held placards and chanted "Camp Bling Save Our Saxon King" outside.

    After the protesters left, the reception continued with the digging team from the Museum of London Archaeological Department, English Heritage, council members and others celebrating the find.

    Ann Holland, executive councillor for Culture Sport and Amenity, said: "Everybody has the right to protest but it has to be done democratically and this was a private celebration for the partners involved.

    "This would not have been found unless the road scheme had gone ahead."

    The artefacts found at the site are at the Museum of London but the council is looking at where a museum could be placed to house them.

    Back to News Page
    Back to Home Page