Leek roundabout protest 'is harming business in town'
CAMPAIGNERS camped out on Leek's roundabout have been told to move on because they are damaging business in the town.
Staffordshire County Council claims shop owners have complained that the protest is putting off shoppers.
Concerned residents set up camp on the floral island on Monday morning, when work to demolish it began.
It will be replaced with traffic lights as part of a network of road changes linked to the town's new Sainsbury's development.
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Neal Podmore, Staffordshire County Councillor for Leek South, said the protest was harming the town.
"While respecting people's right to have their say, the ongoing protest is doing nothing to help the local economy," he said.
"I worry it could have the opposite effect and discourage people from coming here. Both our engineers and the police have asked the protesters to move off what is left of the roundabout and we are receiving complaints from people in the town centre.
"I'd urge the people on the roundabout to think about what they are doing and let the workmen get on with their job.
"People and businesses in Leek want to see this work finished as quickly as possible and this is a time for everybody to get together and get behind Leek."
Families claim the much-loved roundabout is part of the town's heritage and have accused decision-makers of a lack of consultation. They believe the road changes will cause traffic chaos.
Campaigners have vowed to continue their fight despite half the roundabout having been removed.
Edwin Ash, aged 64, from Ladderedge, Leek, said: "This is not just about the roundabout, it is about all the road proposals.
"I've lived and worked in Leek all my life and I cannot think why anyone in their right mind could want to introduce them.
"It's going to bring more traffic into the town centre, which is absolutely ludicrous.
"Half the roundabout is gone but we are here to protest. It is our right to do so and I intend to do it as long as possible."
Fellow campaigner Irene Knights said the public had been getting behind the protest.
The 64-year-old, of Ball Haye Green, Leek, said: "We are getting a lot of support. People are beeping their horns as they go past."
Rosemarie Kirkham, aged 65, from Leek, added: "We are not just guarding a pretty roundabout, we are trying to make a point to the council about this whole issue.
"The more attention we get the better."
Around 30 to 40 people are manning the protest throughout the day, with a handful of campaigners staying in tents overnight.
Police officers have been drafted in to help prevent the demonstration getting out of control.
A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: "Our aim is to provide fair and balanced policing to allow peaceful protest while allowing businesses and authorities to carry out their lawful activity.
"We are working closely with Staffordshire County Council and Staffordshire Moorlands District Council who have a lawful right to complete works to the road network."