Bar plan sparks sit-in by charity

A charity that supports disadvantaged young people in Stoke-on-Trent has occupied a park building for more than a week in protest at the local council's plans to turn the premises into a bar.

7Cs fears the plans will discriminate against groups within the local multiethnic community that do not promote alcohol consumption.

It said the pavilion should be available for use by the community; as a bar, it would create a security problem and affect local residents' use of the park. "People in this country seem to abuse alcohol," said chairman Sam Beazley. "This bar is the last thing we need."

The confrontation could theoretically last indefinitely, Beazley said, because protesters are protected against police intervention by section 6 of the Criminal Law Act. The charity claims to have received increasing support from local shops and residents.

But a council spokesman said: "We have no alternative but to seek a court order to have them removed. They are not helping the community by doing this. We are making great efforts to regenerate the park for the benefit of the public."

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