U-turn is made over using Lemon Quay as protest site
Main image, a protest at Lemon Quay earlier this year during lockdown when shops were closed; inset, Councillor Stuart Roden and the chairman of the farmers’ market Graham Bradshaw had been against using Lemon Quay as a G7 protest site. Pictures: Paul Williams
19th May 2021
By Juliet Lunam
G7 organisers have done a U-turn over using Truro’s Lemon Quay as a site for protestors. The area was one of four earmarked for anyone wanting to take part in demonstrations while the event is on next month.
But civic leaders and even environmental campaigners said the location was not a good choice.
Extinction Rebellion members from Cornwall said they had no plans to organise any mass protests in Truro during the G7.
A spokesperson said it opposed the police decision to designate Lemon Quay and deplored the disruption to local people, particularly the farmers’ market, this will cause.
He added: “It’s been an incredibly tough year for local traders and the farmers’ market has put a lot of effort into a five days event to try to make up some of their lost revenue.
“The police seemed to have sabotaged this for no good reason as nobody we know of is planning any sort of mass protests in Truro.
“The police should reverse this decision immediately so the farmers’ market and other events in Truro can go ahead as planned.”
The Resist G7 campaign, which represents other G7 protest groups has also made it clear they will not be coming to Truro.
They tweeted: “No-one has asked to protest in Truro. It has no relevance to the G7. We won’t be using it and we hope everyone protesting will boycott the sites the police have offered.”
Superintendent Jo Hall of Devon and Cornwall Police said the four sites – two in Cornwall in Truro and Falmouth, one on the Hoe in Plymouth and one in Exeter – were chosen to allow people to exercise their right to protest legally and peacefully.
She said: “This should not impact residents and businesses and so we’ve been working with local councils to agree appropriate protest sites.
“Anyone who wishes to express their views is encouraged to use one of the dedicated sites. As ever, our thinking will be based upon making this a peaceful and safe event for all concerned.”
And Sophie Hosking, Cornwall Council’s strategic director for neighbourhoods, said: “We recognise people’s right to protest, and will work with our colleagues to ensure this can take place in a safe and controlled manner, allowing people to have their voices heard while minimising the impact on local residents and businesses.”
But Truro City councillor Tom Mainwaring-Evans said the location was a terrible choice.
He added: “There was no consultation at a city council level. We heard nothing and I’m tired of throwing the word collaboration around and not actually doing anything.
“I doubt any genuine protest will happen at the site - some of those planning to protest have reached out to the farmers’ market and said they won’t use the site as they don’t want to harm their businesses. I think, if not careful they might risk the protesters selecting their own site and causing more havoc than they had predicted.”
Fellow councillor Stuart Roden was among the first to protest about the sites and took the issue up with the summit organisers.
Following meetings with the police, specialist G7 officers and Cornwall Council it has now been agreed to change the location in Truro to an area of Boscawen Park.
Other places, such as the cattle market, Kenwyn Hill playing field and the park and ride car parks, were discounted for being too isolated and others for being too close to residential areas.
Police chiefs said concerns around the Falmouth site at the Church Street car park have also been reviewed and the space has been reduced to the lower car park plus another site somewhere to be confirmed.
Supt Hall said: “We recognise the concerns which have been raised, specifically in relation to the farmers’ market in Truro.
“We have reviewed these locations with partners over the past week, as well as with the local community and identified protest groups, to recommend suitable sites which keep disruption to a minimum.”
Cornwall Council strategic director for neighbourhoods, Sophie Hosking, said: “We have worked closely with police colleagues and listened to community concerns when identifying a new site. It’s important we strike the right balance between ensuring protesters are able to gather safely and have their voices heard, and minimising disruption to residents.
“Cornwall Council is continuing to urge anyone organising a protest to contact us at G7protest@cornwall.gov.uk so we can provide advice and guidance on how to do so safely and respectfully, and with the minimum impact on those living and working in the area.”
And a Truro City Council spokesperson said: “Truro City Council is pleased our concerns have been listened to and Lemon Quay will not be the location for people to make peaceful protests and demonstrations.
“This will allow the farmers’ market to continue as planned and the city centre to operate normally. As one of the G7 topics is to create a greener future, it is far more appropriate for this to be undertaken peacefully at Boscawen Park.
“As the G7 is discussing caring for the planet, tackling climate change and creating a greener future we will ask all those demonstrating to be respectful of the park.”