Councillors face court over Fylde fracking protest

Police and protesters at the Preston New Road fracking site where the councillors were arrested
Police and protesters at the Preston New Road fracking site where the councillors were arrested

Three councillors have appeared in court charged with offences alleged to have taken place during an anti fracking protest.

The three were among 12 people arrested on July 3 this year outside the Cuadrilla shale gas drilling site at Little Plumpton.

It will be the biggest single prosecution of its type since protesting started.

They are all charged with wilfully obstructing the highway – the A583 Preston New Road – which runs alongside the site.

They are also charged under the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act with hiding or depriving people working for Cuadrilla of tools and works clothing.

They are: Lancashire County Councillor Gina Dowding, 54, of Aldcliffe Road, Lancaster; Fylde councillor Julie Brickles, 52, of Habour Lane, Warton; Kirkham Town councillor Miranda Cox, 48, of Ribby Road,Wrea Green.

The others facing charges are: Catherine Jackson, 49, of Mowbray Road, Fleetwood; Nick Sheldrick, 36, of Clayton Crescent, Blackpool; Barbara Cookson, 66, of Lawrence Grove, Liverpool; Jeanette Porter, 31, of Shepherd Road, St Annes; Nicholas Danby, 55, of Preston Road, Inskip; Daniel Huxley Blythe, 35, of Rutland Road, St Annes.

Cookson is also charged with aggravated trespass at HillHouse business park, Thornton.

The appearances in court are among the first of almost 100 arrests made during a month- long ‘rolling resistance’, organised by protest group Reclaim the Power.

Three other defendants will appear at a future date.

The accused were all bailed by District Judge Jeff Brailsford at Blackpool Magistrates court until their trial starts on November 13.