South East Wales

Anger over Nato protesters' peace camp at Newport park

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Media captionThe camp is expected to run until the weekend after the conference at the Celtic Manor Resort from 3-5 September

Plans for an anti-Nato "peace camp" on playing fields in Newport have angered residents who insist they have been given no say on the protest event.

The No Nato Newport group wants to gather on council-owned land next to Pill Millennium Centre from 27 August.

More than 100 people attended a public meeting on Tuesday to voice objections to the proposed use of the green space.

Newport council said the No Nato group had a right to protest and it was taking steps to mitigate disruption.

The peace camp is expected to run until the weekend after the conference at the Celtic Manor Resort from 3-5 September.

'Not suitable'

Newport council has agreed to source toilets, water, waste and cleaning supplies, but it is not yet clear who will pay for them.

Residents say they know little about the protesters' plans and are worried their tent pitches will put the field out of action for the rest of the year.

Sally Wallace, who lives near the park, said: "The problem is we are going to have large amounts of people down here - people are not going to be able to use the fields.

"The ground itself isn't really suitable for a large group of campers."

Image caption Pill residents expressed their concern at the public meeting on Tuesday evening

Debra Scarpato said people were also concerned the camp could attract demonstrations from opposition groups, which could lead to trouble.

"There's been so many things going around Pill and feelings are getting high and it might get out of control," she said.

"That's my worry, that people are going to come down here and start problems."


Council representatives have met protesters and residents to discuss what might be provided at the camp, what restrictions will be in place, and what will be expected of those using it.

But a spokeswoman insisted the authority was not giving the group permission to use the fields.

"While we recognise that people have a legitimate right to protest, we understand the concerns of residents about the playing fields which are widely used by the community so the council is working with partner agencies and taking steps to mitigate the potential impact," the spokeswoman said.

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Media captionPill vicar Father Edward Mathias-Jones and camp organiser Eddie Clarke discuss the protests

"We met with community representatives to discuss the situation but must emphasise it is being created by the protesters, not the council, so it was not a consultation.

"The council has certainly not given a "commitment" to hold a peace camp in Pill."

The public meeting at Pill Millennium Centre to discuss the camp plans heard from Tracey Holyoake, chair of the community centre's trust, who said the original booking to use the site's facilities made no mention of camping in the field.

Ms Holyoake said she would not allow the booking to go ahead.

Meanwhile Gwent Police have said they will be ready to deal with any impromptu protests that take place during the summit but were not expecting any trouble.

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