Theresa Norton, a Labour councillor who represents the Eastfield ward, pleaded not guilty this morning when she appeared before Scarborough Magistrates’ Court.
Ms Norton, 62, of Esplanade Gardens, was charged with wilfully obstructing a highway with an non-motor vehicle, an offence which was alleged to have taken place on Saturday May 1.
Amber Spencer, prosecuting, told the court that the incident happened at around 11am.
She said: “Officers state that the defendant walked into St Nicholas Street in Scarborough and sat herself down in the middle of the road surface in front of some traffic lights in order to protest [about] climate change.
“The defendant remained there, obstructing the highway and intentionally preventing vehicles from driving past.”
The day in question was the first Bank Holiday weekend after the lifting of some of the coronavirus restrictions and the protest led to a “large number of vehicles” backing up through the town centre, the court was told.
Police asked Ms Norton, a member of Extinction Rebellion, the climate emergency awareness group, to move her protest to elsewhere in the town centre but she refused and was arrested, the court heard.
Tabitha Buck, acting for Ms Norton said that she was simply exercising her right to protest under the Human Rights Act and challenged the prosecution’s version of events.
She said: “[Ms Norton] states that the traffic was not obstructed and that the traffic was flowing, although at a steadier pace, around her.
“She also submits in her defence that she was simply exercising her Article 11 right to peaceful assembly and protest and that is why she was there.”
Ms Norton was released on unconditional bail until her trial, which will take place at the same court on November 5. If found guilty she could face a fine of up to £1,000.
The councillor was elected to Scarborough Borough Council in 2019 and sits on the Planning and Standards committees.
y Reporting Service