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Ipswich: Star reporter helps bring rooftop protest to an end

A man holds a demonstartion after climbing onto the porch of St Edmund House in Rope Walk, Ipswich

A man holds a demonstartion after climbing onto the porch of St Edmund House in Rope Walk, Ipswich

Archant

IPSWICH: Five police cars, a paramedic unit and trained negotiators were sent to a council building after receiving reports that a man was on the roof, waving a banner and refusing to come down.

But it was the Ipswich Star’s reporter that was instrumental in managing to coax him to the ground.

The 38-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was protesting against the treatment he claims his family has received at the hands of social workers.

He had been on the roof since 4.20am and was eventually coaxed down after nearly five hours, following the promise of an interview with the Star.

At about 6am police had set up a cordon around St Edmund House in Rope Walk and directed disgruntled staff to a rear entrance and told students of the nearby college to take an alternative route.

Several motorists heading along Grimwade Street were also held up due to the closure of Rope Walk.

An Ipswich Star reporter arrived at the scene shortly before 8am and offered to put the demonstrator’s side of the story across.

The man agreed to climb down from the porch roof and speak to our reporter about the ordeal he claimed his family has endured over the fate of a child within his extended family.

He told our reporter: “I’m just sick of it. I think they have taken this child away for no reason.”

After spelling out his side of the situation – summed up in his “STOP DESTROYING FAMILYS” (sic) banner – he was taken into custody and whisked off to Martlesham Police Investigation Centre.

He was later charged with using threatening words and behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress and was released on bail ahead of a court appearance on May 14 at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court in Ipswich.

A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman said: “Police were called at just before 6am this morning with a report that a man was protesting from a rooftop in Rope Walk in Ipswich.

“Officers attended and an area around Rope Walk, either side of St Edmund House, was cordoned off to pedestrians. The incident ended peacefully at 8.55am.”

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said it had done “everything we can” to work with the man’s family. The spokesman said: “Suffolk County Council has a legal duty to ensure children in the county are safeguarded.

“Following thorough and appropriate assessments, Suffolk’s independent adoption panel unanimously decided that it was in the child’s best interest that they be placed with an adoptive family.

“At two appeal hearings in court, judges supported this decision and believed it necessary to secure an adoptive placement for the child as quickly as possible.”

n What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN, or email starletters@archant.co.uk

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