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Stratford Extinction Rebellion campaigners launch weekly protest

Extinction Rebellion members Olivia Hatch, left, and Anwen Daniels.Photo: Mark Williamson
Extinction Rebellion members Olivia Hatch, left, and Anwen Daniels.Photo: Mark Williamson

The inhabitants of Stratford’s Conservative headquarters in Old Town might well feel like they’re in the middle of a Harry Potter story.

A seemingly endless flurry of letters is being posted through their letterbox with barely a pause – reminiscent of the stream of letters posted through the door of Privet Drive inviting the fictional young wizard to attend Hogwarts school.

The Stratford letters are addressed to MP Nadhim Zahawi, asking him to back a climate and ecological emergency bill.

Orchestrated by the town’s branch of campaign group Extinction Rebellion, the letter-posting started when the private member’s bill was first put before parliament on 1st September. Local organiser Olivia Hatch told the Herald that during the week of the first hearing they posted a letter every day. Now they are posting one every Saturday and intend to carry on doing so until the bill’s second hearing in March.

If the bill is passed, the government would, by law, have to put in strategies to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Ms Hatch said: “We know the Tory party don’t support the CEE bill but we’re just carrying on to let Mr Zahawi know we’re here. At the moment there are 81 MPs that support the bill, so at this stage it is unlikely to pass in March, but it’s an ongoing process.”

She added: “Mr Zahawi has responded, but he basically said he thought the government were already doing enough.”

After they post their letters, the small group of protesters walk to the Stratford District Council offices in Church Street to further raise awareness about the bill.

“We talk to people as we walk and get lots of support. Awareness of the issues is growing,” said Ms Hatch.

Even though the district council has a panel on climate change, Ms Hatch believes they could be doing more. She said: “The government and council are nervous that they are going to upset people by doing radical things but I don’t think that’s the case, and it needn’t be a party political thing. I think more people are ready for radical changes.”

Ms Hatch reckons the changes in lifestyle that people have experienced during lockdown may help environmental causes.

She added: “The lockdown has been tough but it has made people realise they can change what they’re doing and it’s not the end of the world. It has also made everyone more aware of their local environment and that it’s worth fighting for.”

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