TWO protesters who glued themselves to a table in front of Dorset councilors, disrupting their April meeting, have justified their actions.
The pair, Giovanna Lewis and Annie Webster calling themselves, ‘Grannies for the future’, entered the council chamber at County Hall on Thursday evening as Weymouth councilor Louie O’Leary was speaking in praise of nuclear power.
As he and other councilors watched, transfixed, the pair glued themselves to a desk and read a statement berating Dorset Council for its lack of action on climate change.
They were booed, heckled and even jostled by Conservative councilors before calm was restored with all the 70-plus councilors being ushered out of the chamber to continue their meeting in an adjoining room.
One of the protesters had a statement she was trying to read ripped from her hand while the other said she was “rough handled” by a Conservative woman councilor who had to be warned to step away, or would be reported for assault.
Both had signs on their hand saying “glue.”
Cameras broadcasting the meeting were stopped at the moment the pair entered the chamber at County Hall. Their actions were not broadcast and the public not told what was happening.
The protest came as a motion by Conservative leader Cllr Spencer Flower was about to be debated – a move which protesters feared could have led to a more lenient approach to fossil fuel and nuclear planning applications in the county.
This followed an opposition motion from Weymouth Green councilor Clare Sutton which called for national legislation to be strengthened to allow councils to reject fossil fuel applications. It was lost by 41 votes to 30 with Conservatives voting against.
Cllr Flower described the protesters after the meeting as “anarchists” and said that public debate would not be stopped by their actions, which he said was undemocratic.
Cllr Flower had explained that with the reliance on Russian gas and oil the UK needed to now do what was necessary to become more self-sufficient.
Giovanna Lewis and Annie Webster, say that exactly the opposite is needed – moving towards renewable power and more insulation, reducing the need for reliance on fossil fuels.
“People are not taking this seriously enough, including Dorset Council, virtually all the world experts agree we have two or three years to take decisive action on climate, after that it will be too late,” said Giovanna.
“If they are serious about their climate and ecological emergency declaration to pass Clare Sutton’s (Green) motion would have been an easy thing to do.”
She said that by voting against the Green motion to strengthen planning laws on fossil fuel applications Dorset Council had lost “a small, but important chance, to lobby for change… if we are ever going to stop climate change we need to be able to stop planning applications for oil and gas, so we were very cross they did not do that. It was basically political so they could then vote for Spencer Flower’s motion to open up all the oil and coal fields because of Ukraine war. ”
Ms Webster said that with the Conservatives voting against the Green motion they would be putting Dorset residents at risk from increased climate change: “They will be subjecting us to climate change and ramping up the trajectory by their resolution. What they want is business as usual, ”she said.
The pair expect to now be interviewed by the police and possibly charged for their actions, but say if that is the price they have to pay they are prepared to do so.
Ms Webster says that despite the claims they are Extinction Rebellion activists, they were acting alone as “grannies for the future.”
“It was something we decided to do ourselves. We are members of a number of organizations, but it was our own decision, ”said Ms Lewis.