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'Funeral' cortege aims to disrupt Stonehenge opening
PROTESTERS are planning to disrupt the opening of the new Stonehenge visitor centre next week by driving round in a mock funeral procession.
Members of the Stonehenge Traffic Action Group (STAG) plan to drive around a circuit carrying a coffin next Tuesday and Wednesday.
Their route will take them past the visitor centre at Airman’s Corner, past Stonehenge and Shrewton and Larkhill, past Stonehenge again and through Winterbourne Stoke.
The coffin is being carried on top of a car “to mark the untimely passing of the A344”, which runs by Stonehenge and was closed as part of the £27m Stonehenge improvement programme, of which the new visitor centre is part.
STAG campaign leader Janice Hassett said: “This peaceful protest is to show our annoyance that English Heritage managed to dupe Wiltshire Council into allowing the closure of the A344 before the A303 was made a dual carriageway.”
Mrs Hassett said it was not clear how many cars would be taking part, but emails expressing support were coming in all the time.
She said the protesters did not want to obstruct other drivers and had a diversion worked out should there be traffic problems.
The protesters say that the road closure has led to drivers using neighbouring communities, particularly Shrewton, as “rat-runs”, and they are also calling for a Winterbourne Stoke bypass and for the A303 to be made a dual carriageway.
The STAG website says: “In the shorter term we need to pressurise all parties to ensure shortterm solutions are put in place.”
The Tuesday protest will take place between 8.30am and 10am and 1pm and 4pm.
The Wednesday procession will be circulating from 8.30am until 10am.
A spokesman for English Heritage said “We know people are frustrated and respect their right to peaceful protests. We also agree with them that something needs to be done.
“We approached them to discuss their protest plans but as they are now to take place on public roads, it is a matter for the police to ensure they do not cause major inconvenience to road users.”
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