ANIMAL rights campaigners took to the streets of Gosport in ‘the first of many’ protests against a newly-arrived testing centre.
Organisers hailed the march a success after around 100 people turned up to voice their opposition to Wickham Laboratories, which is moving some of its operations to a new building in Barwell Lane.
The Stop Wickham Animal Testing group changed the location of its annual demonstration – which usually takes place in Wickham – on Saturday to raise awareness of the plans.
They marched from Christ Church Hall, in Stoke Road, to the town’s ferry terminal where activists gave speeches and denounced what they described as outdated and unnecessary tests on animals carried out at the laboratories.
Organiser Jeanette McClunan said she was delighted with the level of interest the march had attracted.
‘This is definitely going to be the first of many,’ she said.
‘It has been well attended and hopefully has helped get our message out to people in Gosport.
She added: ‘It’s awful that the council here has not raised any objections to the labs moving here. It’s not something that people here want or need. Testing on animals is cruel, outdated and unnecessary. We should be using and improving the alternatives rather than expanding these kind of laboratories.’
More than 20 police officers accompanied the marchers as they made their way along the road waving banners and chanting slogans.
Inspector Darren Murphy said the officers were only ensuring the safety of protesters walking on the road.
‘We have worked with the organisers before,’ he said.
‘They are always very open with us about their intentions and willing to listen to what we have to say. I wouldn’t have any objections if this did become their regular march route.’
Marching in the protest was 25-year-old Richard Harper, of Castle Street, Portchester, who said: ‘It’s important we raise awareness of what this company does to animals, so people in Gosport know who’s moving into their area.’
The march began two hours late at 2pm.
Wickham Laboratories declined to comment when contacted by The News.