The Post Bag: Letters To Squall
The Road-Builders ‘Hard’ Men
Squall 10, Summer 1995, pg. 49.
Road Building’s High and Mighty have been scuttling for cover for over a year now to hide the brutal truth about “security” on the doom-laden M11 Link road through East London.
They won’t talk about the 50-plus assaults committed by vicious Reliance Security heavies on non-violent anti-road campaigners.
They deny “spurious” (they say) criminal tactics used by the thugs they recruit at £3.30 an hour and who, so far, have cost the taxpayers more than £10 million.
They lie about their “concern” for the law and their “responsibility” for “fair play”. They have none of the first and accept none of the second. Road-building in the eco-aware nineties is a bare-knuckle business and for the politically-sensitive, new bosses of the Transport Department’s big spending Highways Agency the only real concern is keeping the lid on the painful, illegal truth about the boot boys they employ.
Last October, two TV documentaries; “Public Eye” on BBC2 and Channel 4’s “Ride On” showed vivid footage of Reliance Security thugs at work on the M11 link, kicking and head-butting members of the protesting public.
“Public Eye” also uncovered Reliance’s secret Gestapo, the hard case “Kick Ass Squad”, specialists in mob-handed rough-housing of the seriously determined.
Yet nobody wants to know.
There have been NO police prosecutions, ‘though the less-than- convincing Deputy Director of the Highways Agency, Mr. Jim Boud, did make some promising noises.
On “Ride on”, which showed the video-taped head-butt, he told the world that the Highways Agency would “distance” itself from security firms using “excessive” force.
But, since then, slippery Jim has been ducking, diving and refusing to admit the Kick Ass Squad even exists. More to the point, he’s also refusing to say just how much “distance” he’ll put between his bosses and their £10 million team of hired boot boys.
Last March, a 15 year-old schoolgirl, just looking on at Link Road works in Wanstead, was knocked down and kicked in the ribs by a Reliance Security thug. Police, suspecting broken ribs, sent her to hospital but couldn’t find her attacker among a mob of 30 bovver-booted ‘hard men’.
Nobody wants to know about that one either, and, for over a year, Transport Minister Steven Norris and his minions have been ducking and diving and refusing to face the truth.
He’s had police confirmation of the facts. He’s had requests from two MPs. He’s had letters from Wanstead residents. But lady-killer Steve - he of the five mistresses and the interesting view that only “dreadful people” use public transport - keeps the lid on by an unconvincing mixture of scorn, contempt and bluster, splitting hairs and picking nits and admitting absolutely nothing.
Not a word of regret from this unreformed secondhand car dealer. Nor a word of reassurance. Not one word of retribution either for his pet cowardly thugs, ‘though brave Steve did boast that, early in 1994, he DID act - firmly, courageously and decisively - against Reliance Security’s finest when a Wanstead resident complained about their spitting near her home.
And, worse still, he expected the roughed-up, pissed-off people in Wanstead to be grateful…
But, meanwhile, the Men Who Know refuse to admit the truth.
They won’t act against the abuses of Security’s very-debatable powers. They conspire to protect the guilty. They condemn and dismiss the injured. THEN they have the nerve to tell us they are doing it FOR US.
Which is bad enough - but their real offence is that they also EXPECT US TO BELIEVE IT!
Towers of Strength - Claremont Road, East London; inside Europe's longest eviction. Report and interviews with protesters against the M11 Link Road. By Jim Carey. Squall 9, Jan/Feb 1995.
For a menu of many other Squall articles about the Anti-Roads Movement, including protest camps, Reclaim The Streets and more click here