TRUTH & RECONCILIATION COMMISSION FOR STONEHENGE

TRC 13 NOTES

TRC13 April 10th 2000 at The George, Amesbury

Present: Clews Everard (Director, Stonehenge for English Heritage)
Andy Hollinghead (Police Commander, Stonehenge area)
Xia Lane (Local resident, Durrington)
Chris Wade-Brown (Druid, Seahorse)
Hawk (Druid & former local Councillor)
Martin Mottram (Local resident, Salisbury, & Quaker)
Rollo Maughfling (Archdruid)
Steve Bass (Home Office representative, based GSO(SW), Bristol)
Tim Abbott (Vice Chair TRC & Acting Chair today)
George Firsoff (Secy TRC, Independent pagan)
Roy Gillett (Astrological Association of GB)
Nora Morris (Custodian of the Shrine, Redenham)
Paul Aitken (formerly of The Stonehenge Campaign)
Kathleen Ben Rabha (Social Responsibility, churches in Wiltshire)

George reported as Secretary he had written to the Home Office suggesting a meeting of the TRC at their premises in London, this had been rebuffed, a further letter suggesting the Government might apologise as a result of a truth & reconciliation process was perhaps bold. However there was progress in that a regional Government Office representative was present at this meeting. A debate was joined as to how much the events of 1985 onwards were Home Office inspired.

Tim asserted the County Council were very active in leading the agenda before the incident in the Beanfield.

George said he did not know but he would like to find out.

Hawk and others said it was better to be low key, to start afresh for 2000, for everyone's benefit, avoid thinking of us and them. The view was expressed that we had gone through the past to learn. The view was also expressed that by looking at the past again we could learn more.

Andy said he had learnt much more about the history. The decisions in the 1980s had been the Chief Constable's, he said.

George continued by saying there had been a meeting with an MOD officer representing the control of the training area but there was not a positive response to questions about carparking or camping. The most he might expect might be to build a relationship by applying for a small well organised camp outside the solstice period. An attempt to interest Larkhill Camp in a music event to which enlisted persons could come was rebuffed by the Adjutant and Commandant. There was a positive response from National Trust however who had responded at any rate to his request for a meeting with their land managers.

Finally George announced that TRC and SPP material was posted on a website at:
http://www.cashsite.net/users/padras

[However PLEASE NOTE this site no longer exists the material is now at:
http://www.greenleaf.demon.co.uk]

Tim moved the discussion on by asking Clews to report on the arrangements for this year's Summer Solstice.

Clews said there was now a wide consultation at the Round Table meetings and she had listened to the suggestions that had been put forward. English Heritage were still considering all the possible options and would make a decision later this month. The long term plan was to consider more openness, however there must not be irreparable damage to the monument. There were several working groups planning towards a completion of new arrangements for the site in 2008 (The Master Plan). There are now long term aims.

The proposals she has sent through to Head Office have to be considered. Their meeting is on the 19th April. She is happy about the helpfulness of the Round Table meetings. The next meeting will be on 20th April.

Andy said the police are also awaiting the decision of the English Heritage commissioners.

Nora wondered if there would be infringement of the human rights in the UN Charter as there was last year. "People have a right to practise their religion" she said, this year she was well again and would fight for those rights. Last year English Heritage cancelled many of the arranged visits.

Clews said climbing on the stones, and obscenities were not acceptable, and local people also had a right to come to the stones which they had not been able to exercise. The basis of the thinking was the festival must not return.

Even so some asked, where were people to stay? The meeting felt there must be open access. Last year the people most able to act as informal stewards were trapped on a bus in Amesbury.

George said there were still people thinking in "us and them" terms and the peace process needed to continue its efforts.

English Heritage had appointed a new chair. It was asked why we never got to talk to the bosses [the commissioners]. This was not considered acceptable by speakers. Clews was saying there must not be festival, but staying over night is not the same as a festival.

Andy said it was important in order to move forward to break the link between the festival and the Solstice at Stonehenge. The fear of a festival was gettting in the way of access arrangements for the stones.

On the whole Martin wrote the situation looked hopeful.

Tim said there was no pressure against people being present during the night.

Andy believed things had changed a great deal since the early 1980s.

Tim said the opposition was to an "unlawful assembly" if there was agreement that was different. He questioned that Salisbury District Council had the power to block an "open day" at Stonehenge if English Heritage agreed it.

People were keen for this year to work which meant there must be good behaviour particularly for this year. How could non-confrontation be advertised? There had to be a natural healing of the confrontation. It was asked if a little of the 2 Billion to be spent at Stonehenge could go to peace and reconciliation work. The answer appeared to be that all expenditure was tightly monitored. This sounded like No.

It was agreed to convene another TRC before the Solstice, on Tuesday May 23rd.

One should take a positive line. The authorities believed they could control the situation now.

Tim said it was important that what came back from the Commissioners was not further procrastination.

Martin said what had happened last year was that some of the young people, blocked by the fence had reacted by wanting to get in. In future ordinary people could act as stewards educating visitors as to how to behave, and to respect the site. They could be encouraged to remove their shoes while visiting the temple, said Nora.

Rollo promised that stewards could be found. Clews asked that no further letters go to the commissioners. Rollo had in fact already written, asking for free access for his congregation. George asked him to clarify if this meant the gates would just be left open. Rollo agreed.

The European Convention of Human Rights became British law in October. But most police were already applying it in practise. And United Nations rights, Nora emphasised.

[Account constructed by The Secretary from Martin Mottram's notes. The chronological order of some of the latter part of the contributions may be awry, he commented. The Secretary agrees, having in addition puzzled over the order of the pages.]

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