Battle of Stokes Croft cost £60k to police anti-Tesco protest
It cost £60,000 to police the protest that brought part of Bristol to a standstill on Tuesday.
Mounted police from Avon and Somerset, 70 officers on foot and 40 bailiffs spent several hours trying to evict squatters who had occupied the former Jester's Comedy Club on Cheltenham Road.
At one point three major access points – the junctions of Ashley Down Road and Zetland Road onto Gloucester Road and the corner of Ashley Road and Cheltenham Road – were closed while police kept crowds under control as bailiffs battled the protesters.
The cost of the operation emerged yesterday when one of the protesters appeared at Bristol Magistrates' Court for his part in the drama.
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Cai Dobbs was treated as a hero by a group of 20 or so supporters in the public gallery for his part in the so-called 'Battle of Stokes Croft', which saw him superglue himself to a fence to stall the bailiffs.
His supporters stood and applauded when Dobbs, 21, appeared in the dock. And they carried him on their shoulders from the court after he was given a £100 fine – which he did not have to pay because he had spent a night in the cells.
Dobbs, of no fixed address, was squatting with friends in the former Jester's Comedy Club in Cheltenham Road, which has been bought by Tesco.
Bailiffs arrived on Tuesday morning to evict them.
The court heard that Dobbs "acted on the spur of the moment" when he found some superglue and stuck himself to the top of a 20ft metal tripod made from three metal poles.
At another stage of the protest he climbed a cherry picker which the bailiffs were using to try to pluck people off the roof of the building. He was eventually arrested and spent a night in police cells. He pleaded guilty to obstructing the court-appointed bailiffs.
The court was told that it had cost £60,000 to police the protest which had caused "massive disruption" with the closure of Cheltenham Road.
The cost also included court officers and security staff.
Karen Jones, defending, said Dobbs, of previous good character, was opposed to the building of a third Tesco within a two-mile radius including one opposite the court building.
"His concerns are that this will have a massive impact on local businesses and will affect the local economy," she said.
"He also has political concerns about the goods sold by Tesco. He is someone who is very concerned to have a low impact on the environment himself.
"He does not claim benefits. He lives communally and the people with whom he lives share their food."
She said he was not an organiser of the protest and it was a spur-of-the-moment decision to take part when he was he was going to lose his home.
Magistrates said they considered he played a minor role in the event and fined him £100 but because he had spent the night in police cells, he did not have to pay.