High Street protest march over farm sell off
A public march through Portishead to protest against plans by Bristol City Council to sell one of the town's only remaining High Street farms is to take place on Saturday, March 6.
Local residents, headed by mum-of-two Rita Baker, launched the Save Court House Farm campaign after learning the authority was planning to put the ancient farm up for auction.
The march will leave the White Lion pub at 11am with protesters making their way along the High Street to the Folk Hall car park where petitions can be signed.
The theme of the march will be Portishead through the ages, from the Doomsday Book to the present day, and people are being invited to arrive in costume.
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A petition has also been set up to object to the sale which has already collected more than 2,000 signatures.
Campaigners want to halt the sale and open up talks with the council about the possibility of taking over the site and turning it into a community farm.
Campaign leader Mrs Baker said that more than 60 people had already confirmed that they would be taking part in the demonstration.
Mrs Baker, 37, said: "The people of Portishead are very keen to see this farm retained and this has been proved by the amount of support for the campaign.
"I am expecting at least 100 people at the march so far but am hoping those figures will increase.
"I think Bristol City Council has already made its mark on Portishead over the years, selling off land, meaning the town has lost much of its heritage to development. Portishead needs to retain its history and we cannot let these important sites which tell the story of where the town came from be lost."
This is not the first time the Portishead community has marched through the streets of the town.
Thousands of residents first marched through the streets in 2005 as part of a campaign calling for the Cabstand traffic lights to be switched off.
In March last year, protesters took to the streets once again to march in protest over plans by North Somerset Council to close the town's open-air pool.
The farm, which was once rumoured to be home to a lord and was part of a wider estate in the town, is one of only a handful of farms left along the High Street.
Others have been sold off over the years and, despite massive opposition from residents, used for housing.
It is understood that guidelines have already been issued by North Somerset Council for any potential development of the site, which lies within a conservation area, that state the Grade II* listed farmhouse must be retained but the outbuildings and land could be developed.
Mrs Baker has visited other community farms in Bristol to see how they operate and has put her ideas for the site to Portishead Town Council's heritage committee.
The farm is due to go under the hammer in May.
Anyone who wants to get involved with the campaign should email Mrs Baker on email@example.com.
People can also join the campaign on Facebook at Save Court House Farm in Portishead.