MERIDEN gypsy protesters braved the bad weather to ring in the changes at their camp on Monday, as their 24-hour vigil approaches a thousand days.
Around 40 villagers had huddled round their campfire, on the final night of the wettest year on record, to countdown the New Year and sing a chorus of Auld Lang Syne.
Chairman David McGrath said: “We refused to let the bad weather dampen our spirits and people were popping into the camp all evening to wish those on shift a Happy New Year.”
Residents Against Inappropriate Development, RAID, set up their Eaves Green Lane camp after eight caravans were illegally pitched on the green-belt site in April 2010.
Three years later, and despite being ordered to leave themselves, RAID are still there and pledge to continue their 24-hour vigil until March 31, when the gypsies have agreed with Solihull Council to vacate the site.
Their determined protest has seen many of RAID’s 250 members spend Christmases, New Years Eves, Easters and more in the tiny protest camp but Mr McGrath said it would all be worth it to get the greenbelt back.
“Christmas morning spent gathering winter fuel sounds like a carol - but not when you are part of a busy protest camp pledged to protect the greenbelt,” he said. “The protest camp may have started as a controversial local matter three years ago but has developed into something the whole country is learning from.
“Those who flout planning laws, environmental protections and disregard the need to consult with communities before they start developing may find that things have recently gotten a whole lot harder. And it started in Eaves Green Lane, Meriden.”
l RAID will be holding an open day and curry night on January 24 to mark the 1000 day milestone