Nationwide protests to stop Barclays fracking

Stop Barclays Fracking banner from the demonstration in Oxford.

A banner from the demonstration in Oxford.

The last week of October saw an unprecedented wave of protests against Barclays Bank, calling on the bank to divest from the fracking industry. Barclays own 97% of Third Energy, the company that wants to frack in Kirby Misperton in Ryedale. Permission to frack at their existing well-site was granted by the North Yorkshire County Council in May, despite huge local opposition and over 4,000 objections. The application is now destined for a Judicial Review, which will be heard in London on 22nd and 23rd November.

The week of action – which was dubbed STOP BARCLAYS FRACKING – was organised by Friends of the Earth, 350.org, SumOfUs, Fossil Free, People and Planet and Frack Free Ryedale. During the week nearly 100 protests and demonstrations took place outside Barclays branches, from as far afield as Glasgow, Belfast, Cardiff, Yeovil and Hastings. Protests started in Ryedale and culminated in a protest outside Barclays Bank at Piccadilly Circus, in London.

To frack or not to frack? The Three Witches protest outside Barclays in Malton.

To frack or not to frack? The Three Witches protest outside Barclays in Malton.

The week of action began on Monday morning with a Halloween-themed demonstration outside Barclays Bank in Malton, the main market town of Ryedale. About fifty local residents gathered outside the branch holding placards saying ‘Barclays fund fracking in Ryedale’. Three witches stirred a brew of fracking chemicals in a huge pot, while a witch flew overhead on a broomstick with a placard saying ‘Barclays – £15.6 billion fossil fuel investments globally’.

Josie Downs, from Frack Free Malton and Norton, said: ” Barclays still seem bewitched by fracking. Let’s break the spell this Halloween!” For an excellent video of the protest and some great photos, check out the Minster FM website, and there is also a report in the Gazette and Herald.

Ryedale residents take their front room to Barclays branch in York.

Ryedale residents take their front room to Barclays branch in York.

On the same day Ryedale resident Nicky Hollins and her daughter, Ruby, recreated her family home in the lobby of Barclays in York. You can read a blog about the action on the Friends of the Earth website. Nicky said in a report on Minster FM, “I’m taking action this week along with my daughter, because if we stand back and do nothing there will be nothing left to save. Ryedale must be protected so that it can be appreciated for generations to come as it should be with full access to clean water, air and land, and a safe climate.”

Protests continued throughout the week across the country, culminating in major demonstrations all over the country on Saturday.

Protest outside Barclays Bank in Piccadilly Circus.

A Ryedale family protest outside Barclays Bank in Piccadilly Circus.

In London, Nicky and Ruby Hollins set up their Ryedale front room outside Barclays in Piccadilly Circus, complete with cups of tea, placard waving supporters, people in hard hats and much more besides. Other campaigners were holding anti-Barclays banners inside the branch, which then put up a sign saying that it was closing due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’. Hundreds of passers-by witnessed the protest, and the action attracted considerable press attention. There is a very good report on the action in London’s Evening Standard, with the headline “Campaigners block Barclays Bank by sipping tea on sofa.”

This theme was also picked up in London’s free paper the Metro, which described the protest as “the most British protest ever’. You can read their report, which has some great pictures, tweets and video, by going to the Metro website. There is also a great video of the event on YouTube, and you can read a report on the event in the Huffington Post.

Also on Saturday there were other demonstrations across the country , including Swindon, Sheffield, Leicester, Liverpool, Hastings, Huddersfield, Andover, Darlington, Aberystwyth, Cambridge, Brighton, Chelmsford, Trowbridge, Colchester and many many other places. (Click on the links for local press reports of some of the demonstrations.)

Protestors outside Barclays in York on Saturday.

Protestors outside Barclays in York.

York campaigners held another demonstration in the city centre, this time with a Halloween theme – see photo on right – and in Nottingham protestors held banners saying ‘Barclays Bank fund fracking’ and forced the branch to close early for the day.

We can’t possibly include pictures of every event on this page, but you can see an excellent selection of photos of some of the actions on Drill or Drop. Also check out the Frack Free Ryedale Facebook page for photos of other actions. every protest helped to spread the word of Barclays’ investment in fracking and thousands more people up and down the land know that their bank funds this unwanted, unnecessary and unsafe industry.

As well as all the protests outside numerous Barclays branches,  hundreds of people also signed petitions, closed their accounts and wrote letters to the bank. If you haven’t already done so, please sign the SumOfUs petition asking Barclays to divest from fracking, and if you are a Barclays customer and want to write to your Barclays branch to protest, here is a template letter you can use.

stephen-pennells-barclays-protestFrack Free Ryedale would again like to thank our collaborators in this extraordinary week of action against Barclays – Friends of the Earth, 350.org, SumOfUs, People and Planet and Fossil Free – and to everyone in these organisations that helped make this week of action such a success.

And, most importantly, we would like to thank every single person who protested against Barclays during an amazing week. We have been overwhelmed by this show of national support, which shows that the whole country is now waking up to the dangers of this unwanted, unnecessary and unsafe industry.

With only 17% of people now in favour of fracking, according to the government’s own WAVE survey, public support is at an all-time low. The message to Barclays is clear – we demand that you divest from fracking in the UK and that your subsidiary, Third Energy, withdraws its application to frack at Kirby Misperton. And people all over the country will keep campaigning against Barclays and its toxic investments until you do.

Protestors outside Barclays in Sheffield.

Protestors outside Barclays in Sheffield.