Vivergo Fuels plant protest policing criticised

Image caption Workers have been protesting at the Vivergo Fuels plant in Hull since March

A union involved in a long-running protest at a Hull biofuels plant has complained of "overbearing" policing after an official was arrested.

GMB national officer Phil Whitehurst was arrested outside the Vivergo Fuels plant in Saltend for a public order offence on Wednesday morning.

The union condemned the arrest and said it would "challenge any charge".

Humberside Police said officers warned Mr Whitehurst several times to reduce the number of people protesting.

The GMB said it was preparing a complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission about the "provocative and overbearing policing of this dispute".

Maria Ludkin, GMB national legal officer, said: "In this dispute, our officials have been harassed every day by a high volume of police, and new conditions about how the protest is conducted.

"Police have threatened to arrest our officials on a daily basis for acts such as taking photos of union members on the protest, or stepping off a curb on to the road."

Police said they had introduced Section 14 notices that stipulate demonstrations at the plant can only be held early in the morning and must not exceed 20 protesters to maintain public order.

Protests have been held at Vivergo's Saltend plant since March, after more than 400 employees had their contracts terminated.

The workers were employed by Redhall Engineering Solutions, which had its contract with Vivergo terminated after the project fell behind schedule.

Vivergo Fuels, which owns the biofuels plant, suspended construction work while another company was found to take over the contract.

The GMB said it believed Vivergo should continue to employ the workers to complete the job.

Mr Whitehurst was still being questioned by police on Wednesday afternoon.

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