PROTESTERS are planning ‘militant’ action to show their opposition to new council offices.

They will take part in a rally beside a tank after marching from County Hall in Dorchester on April 2 to protest the new West Dorset District Council HQ.

Supporting the marchers from Stop Council Offices Now (SCON) is veteran campaigner Norrie Woodhall.

The 105-year-old, who was directed by Thomas Hardy, has voiced her opposition to the £9.7million offices set to be built in Dorchester town centre.

Alistair Chisholm, of SCON, said the march and the rally are a sign of taxpayers’ anger and frustration.

“We’re not using the tank because we want to lob things at the council, it’s more a symbol of how strongly feelings are running in Dorchester and beyond as people realise money is being spent in this way at this time. Norrie will be with us in spirit. There’s not a person around who loves the county town more than she does. She still rails against it. It’s not just people over 100 who are against it, there are students who don’t understand why it’s happening. It crosses the political and age divide,” he said.

The Abbott mobile artillery vehicle will be on loan from Pine Lodge Farm at Bockhampton.

It will be driven to South Walks where it will remain parked while protesters listen to people speak against the council offices.

Mr Chisholm said: “WDDC has seriously failed to take account of the frustration and anger of those who elected it four years ago. This break-down is clear from WDDC’s attempt to build new offices for themselves, at a time when so many families need extra help because of job losses or reductions in vital services.” Library campaigners will also be at the rally, protesting the plan to build a new library for Dorchester within the Charles Street development.

Mike Chaney, of Ad Lib, will be speaking about Dorset County Council’s £5million proposal to move Dorchester Library from Colliton Park to Charles Street.

Mr Chisholm said: “This comes at a time when DCC are also cutting back on and possible axing 20 out of 34 libraries in the county.

“This £5million is particularly irrational as DCC is simultaneously seeking to strip £800,000 a year from the 20 smaller Dorset libraries – probably causing some to shut forever.”

Council chiefs Robert Gould of WDDC and Angus Campbell of DCC have not replied to invitations to speak at the rally.

West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin, WDDC chief executive David Clarke and WDDC planning chief Dr David Evans have declined invitations to attend, Mr Chisholm said.

Another speaker at the rally will be criminal barrister Michael Turner QC. Residents who wish to take part in the rally are asked to meet at County Hall at 11am on April 2.

Next month SCON plans to ask every candidate who is standing for election with WDDC whether they would commit to demand immediate clarification of the financial penalties and contractual penalties likely on withdrawal from Charles Street.