Thousands of giant bonfires lit up the countryside both in Britain and abroad at 7.30pm last night, as the Liberty and Livelihood Beacons Campaign got underway.
Communities lit thesymbolic fires in support of the Countryside Alliance’s campaign, which is to peak this Sunday with the Liberty & Livelihood March in Central London.
In Parliament Square, a “politically correct” bonfire was made of silk and lights. Members of the East Kent hunt, the latest volunteers to ensure the vigil there is manned 24 hours a day, played host to other members of the rural community.
A van drove the bonfire round the square to avoid blocking the heavy evening traffic. Many motorists showed their support by hooting their horns, while, on the green, the crowd of countryside protesters grew increasingly large.
Among those present were Londoners Julian and Lisa Wannell, who had come “to encourageurban folks to be better informed” about rural affairs.
“The soul of this country is in the countryside,” they said, “but people from the cities have lost touch with it. We are here, and we will march on Sunday, because we believe the countryside needs all the support it can get.”
At 7.40pm, fireworks went off on Parliament Square but the initiative did not meet with police approval. An officer stepped in and called aside James Adam, who had lit some of the rockets, for identification.
“They had been prewarned that we would have fireworks,” said one of the organisers, who did not wish to be named. “But this is a security area and they probably didn’t like the bangs in the end.”
Later in the evening a rocket relay began in Scotland and travelled south to represent the enormous numbers of people marching down on the capital this weekend.
Chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, Richard Burge, said: ‘”Beacons have historically been used to signal some form of threat to the nation’s communities. They will send a warning shot to government and herald the coming of the largest peacetime demonstration the country has ever seen.”
Support for the cause is not just limited to the UK. The CA has received encouragement from abroad, and beacons were lit last night in Hungary, Malta, Portugal, France, Eire, Canada, India, Oman, and Tanzania.
Read more Liberty and Livelihoodstories:
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- Record numbers sign up to march
- Stewards needed for Liberty & Livelihood March