WHAT a mess.

Newport is exactly three weeks away from the start of the Nato Summit.

We all know the event will bring protesters to the city, possibly in their thousands.

We all know the summit's opponents plan a peace camp.

But, with 21 days to go until the eyes of the world focus on Newport, no-one has any idea where protesters will pitch their tents.

What we do know is the peace camp will not be held on Pill playing fields, following a stormy public meeting on Tuesday at which the anger of residents was clear for everyone to see.

Despite claims to the contrary, most local people at the meeting said there had been no consultation with them about the peace camp plans. And if there was it was obviously woefully inadequate.

How on earth can the views of local people be ignored in such a way?

The council seems to have learned nothing from the PR disaster of last year's the Chartist mural destruction.

Protest groups seem to have a total disregard for the community they wanted to live among.

The really damning fact in all of this is that dialogue between protesters and Newport council started on June 9. Yet last Friday, two months after protesters wrote, via their solicitors, to the council asking it to make land available for a peace camp came the announcement that Pill was the chosen venue.

The council made it clear Pill was the protesters' choice and that it had not given permission for them to lose the land.

But yesterday the No Nato Newport group told me Pill was always unsuitable but the council, in consultation with the police, had agreed to facilitate toilets and waters there.

Someone isn't being straight with us.

And the people who need the truth are the people of Newport.

If dialogue between protesters and the council started at the beginning of June, why are we in this mess in the middle of August?

It could have all been so different.

As soon as Newport was announced at the venue for the Nato Summit it was obvious the events would attract protesters in substantial numbers.

The vast majority of these people want to do nothing more than protest peacefully against Nato and its role in world affairs.

The authorities - whether that be the city council, the police, the Welsh or UK governments, or even Nato itself - have had many months to find ways in which a peace camp could be beneficial to both the peaceful protesters and the people of Newport (some of whom, it should be pointed out, are one and the same).

Local businesses, particularly those who sell food and drink, could have been encouraged to get involved.

And I cannot believe it would have been beyond the wit of man to find a suitable site for such a camp within Newport's boundaries, providing people living nearby were fully involved in the planning process.

Instead we have a situation where protesters and the council, residents and protesters, and the council and residents are all set against each other.

What a mess. What an avoidable mess.