For an update and more info, see also: http://nottingham.indymedia.org/articles/2549
Occupy Nottingham Withdrawal Announcement 21.04.12
As of 9:00 pm Sunday 21 April Occupy Nottingham will end their occupation of Nottingham’s Market Place after 190 days.
Prior to the last court hearing our legal team at Public Interest Lawyers has given us a 50-55% chance of success. During the hearing Judge Inglis dismissed all of the Council’s allegations against the camp, but said that any proposed deal between the Council and the camp was not the business of the court, he also stated that any issues over human rights, rights of assembly, or to protest were secondary to the issue of lawful possession of the land. He accepted that the Council were the legal owners of the land and therefore showed inclination to grant the order for possession in favour of the the Council as landowners.
In addition we are in no position to contest the land ownership, as this has to be dealt with at a separate land registry hearing. Based on the fact that legal aid was refused both individually and as a group for the current case, we would be even less likely to get it in assistance with the land status and being as we have so far been unable to gain the services of a land lawyer pro rata, we are currently unable to explore this avenue further.
This meant that at the next hearing of the three day trial due to begin on 30th April, that our barristers had a hugely difficult task to win the argument for the camp to be able to remain on the Market Place.
Whereas initially the risk of costs being awarded against camp members was removed from the previous hearing, that was not the case for the trial with a risk of some 20-30K in costs, which didn’t seem such a worthwhile risk with a much lower chance of success and unlikelihood of winning the case. A protective costs order was denied by Inglis on the grounds of a vested interest in the outcome, insurance cover was attempted but that too was unsuccessful.
It was decided that it would be best to remove Carl Freeman from being named defendant and that he should withdraw from the protest to protect him from costs, but that would then put any other camp members whose names were known to the Council of being at risk for the costs themselves.
Feeling that we were no longer in a good position at this point to negotiate a deal with the Council with their certainty of winning, the camp decided it would be best to withdraw from the Market Place and regroup. It was felt that in order to avoid the hearing going ahead and then costs being awarded against camp members that it be best to remove the camp before the barristers and Judge prepared for the case and generated costs.
It was never Occupy Nottingham’s intention to do ‘battle’ with the Council, as we have said all along, they may have made some decisions that we do not agree with, but we understand their hands are tied so to speak to a certain extent and they are are part of the 99% too. We also realise that should the trial go ahead, then the costs generated be awarded to camp members and there is no way anyone on camp could possibly afford to pay them. That would result in 20-30K in lost resources for the City, which as it is already struggling through lower available funds, we would not want to add to such a problem (even though we still maintain that was never any need for a hearing if the Council had only maintained negotiations and as such the costs generated would have been a direct result of the Council’s mismanagement of failing to reach a comparable position with our protest), no matter who was at fault or liable for such costs. On those grounds too we felt it was time to withdraw.
During the stay of over six months on Nottingham’s Market Place, Occupy Nottingham feel that they have been successful with what they initially set out to achieve in raising awareness of the issues we currently face in our society, the reasons behind them and begin discourse to find solutions to the problems. We have helped raise what were almost unheard of subjects for discussion in to regular daily conversation for many people throughout the City and thus begun a chain reaction of increasingly better informed and more aware members of the public, who are thinking for themselves, researching their own answers and making up their own opinions away from those of the media and government. In turn these people will discuss these subjects with others and so it roll’s on.
We would make it quite clear that although we are leaving the Market Place, we are not packing it up or giving in, we realise there is a lot more work to be done and many more people to be reached. We make no attempt to hide the fact that the past six months of the protest have been hard work to maintain and we are not a little bit tired, many have had to take a break and that has reduced numbers and put more pressure on those remaining, along with the pressure of the court case sapping motivation. Therefore a break and some recuperation was not only needed but well deserved.
We have decided to use a short break to regroup, plan our next actions and reorganise before we take the campaign mobile, there are many people who are still not aware fully of the issues we are facing, or even of Occupy Nottingham. There are many more places and towns that we could and will visit now, and aim to take our protest throughout the Shire and even to support groups in other City’s.
The decision to leave was not an easy one, but the camp now feels that the time is right to move on and begin a new chapter for Occupy Nottingham, this will help us to regain the initiative and put a fresh spark of energy and ideas in to action.
On a final note we would like to thank everyone who has shown or given us support in any way, Public Interest Lawyers for their steadfast advice and support throughout the legal proceedings, Nottingham’s Police Force for their understanding and fair treatment of us throughout, Nottingham Council for being open to some form of liaison and Richard Antcliff for being willing to perform that role.
Coming to a place near you soon…
We are the 99%
We are legion
Attached Files – Letter to NCC: http://nottingham.indymedia.org/system/file_upload/2012/04/21/162/20120420_ltr_to_ncc.pdf
Contact email: occupynottingham [at] hotmail.co.uk