Shropshire Star

Shropshire climate protestors forced bank closure during day of action, court told

Four climate protestors from Shropshire were among a group of seven Extinction Rebellion campaigners who chained themselves together at a bank forcing it to close, during a 'Day of Action' in Cardiff, a court has heard.

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Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

A magistrates hearing sitting before a district judge at Cardiff Crown Court on Monday heard that the seven protestors entered Barclays in the St David's Way area of the city on November 14.

Once there, the protestors held up placards accusing the bank of using its customers' money to "fund the sixth mass extinction".

The group, all members of the climate action group Extinction Rebellion, then chained themselves together and refused to leave, despite pleas from both the bank staff and South Wales Police.

Six of the protestors were in court on Monday, charged with aggravated trespass.

Michael Bastow, 63, of Victoria Road, Oswestry; Dougall Purce, 59, of North Street, Shrewsbury; Jamie Russell, 48, of Well Meadow Drive, Shrewsbury; Christine Welch, 69, of Church Street, Broseley; Sarah Wilding, 55, of High Street, Aberwysth; and Pamela Williams, 74, of Van, in Powys, all deny the charge.

A seventh protestor, Mark Stokes, 62, of Lorne Street, Oswestry, had already appeared before courts over the incident.

On Monday, Cardiff Crown Court head from Donna Poffley, the branch manager at Barclay's Bank in St David's Way, Cardiff, who said she and four other colleagues at the branch were on a Teams meeting when the protestors entered the bank.

She told the court: "I get at Teams message from one of my colleagues at the branch letting me know that protestors had entered the building and chained themselves to a stand on the right hand side of my branch.

"I came straight downstairs in the lift down to the banking hall. I saw seven protestors, four men and three women, chained to each other and chained to a fixed stand in the bank that could not be moved from its location."

She said the protestors were standing in the window of the bank in the branch's customer waiting area, displaying placards to passers-by outside and the chain was along the floor, which she said was a "health and safety risk".

The court was told that another protest was being conducted outside the branch, where protestors were lying before the entrance pretending to be corpses, although Ms Poffley conceded that the defendants in court were not part of that action, which in itself was not in breach of the law being as it was conducted in a public area outside.

Ms Poffley continued: "I serve about 300 customers a day that enter my business, and we are in a cost of living crisis and customers need us more than they have ever done before. By closing before 1.30pm, it meant customers could not come and see us about their finances. And I had to cancel two appointments that afternoon."

She added that after contacting the police, she and a senior police officer asked the protestors more than once to leave the branch.

"I said to them would you please leave the building you are not welcome. They did not leave," she said.

The police then asked her to close the branch just after 1pm so the protestors inside the could be dealt with.

"Speaking to the senior police officer, he asked would I be happy to close the branch," she said.

"Because it was not a nice environment outside and I wanted to make sure my staff would be safe when they left the branch, I made that decision to close."

The court also heard from Inspector Gareth Childs, who said he gave the protestors a warning to leave the branch, before they were finally arrested that afternoon.

In a statement read out in court, he said: "After a period of time I individually made an appeal for them to leave the premises and leave peacefully by 2.40pm.

"I explained that their details would be taken and they would receive a summons through the post," he said.

"I told them after 2.40pm had passed, they would then be arrested and officers would cut through the chains. The offer to leave was not taken up."

The court was also shown body camera footage recorded by police officers at the scene.

The hearing continues.

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