by Thom Morris
Church protestor Chris Cooper has been asked to move his tent off St Mary’s churchyard, but plans to continue with his hunger strike.
The 31-year-old was ordered by police yesterday afternoon to dismantle his tent and clear the ground to allow workers to start the renovation work.
Today a ground-breaking ceremony is being held to officially mark the beginning of the £1.7 million project which will allow the church to hold plays and music events.
PC Paul Morton, who is in charge of policing the town centre, said: “We’ve been speaking to Mr Cooper over the last week with regards to his protest and he was aware of his limitations under section 68 of the criminal and public order act. We have received a formal request to ask him to leave and I have asked him to leave under the powers of section 68.
He added: “No formal proceedings will be made against him at this time because he has decided to move his tent and continue his protest at home. The formal request wasn’t made until yesterday so until then it’s a civil matter and no request had been made, so it is not something the police would be involved with.”
Mr Cooper says he now plans to hit the streets to obtain as much public support and petition signatures as possible so he can send his request for a public enquiry to Downing Street.
Meanwhile work at St Mary’s church will continue as planned and is due to reopen next year.
For more on this story see this week's Kentish Express.