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Organisers of public demonstrations unite in rejecting demand that they 'pay to protest'

demonstration

A range of campaign groups, including organisations responsible for some major forthcoming demonstrations in London, have announced that they would not be paying for traffic management for their protests. This follows the recent announcement that the Metropolitan Police intend to withdraw from this role, which they have carried out in the past. The campaign groups stated:

"We believe any demand to pay to be able to demonstrate constitutes an unacceptable restriction on the right to protest. We reject proposals that protest organisers should have to pay private companies to plan or implement traffic management. We will therefore continue to organise and support public protests in the same manner that we have in the past, without paying for traffic management."

Organisations include the Campaign Against Climate Change, Million Women Rise, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition, the People's Assembly Against Austerity, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Student Assembly, 350.org, British Muslim Initiative, Friends of the Earth, Defend the Right to Protest, Stand Up To Racism and Unite Against Fascism.

Chris Nineham, vice-chair of Stop the War, said "Before the historic 2 million person march against the Iraq war in 2003, the police told us we couldn't go to Hyde Park because we would damage the grass. Movements like ours must continue to refuse these attempts to restrict protests. Protest is an essential part of democratic politics."

Joining those who have in recent days spoken out against this new policy since it became public, Frances O'Grady at the TUC stated:

"We have always enjoyed an excellent relationship with the Metropolitan Police in organising some of the biggest marches of recent years. We recognise the pressure put on them by the deep cuts in the policing budget in recent years, but think it wrong to put the costs of traffic management onto march organisers as this is a necessary requirement for a safe well-organised protest. Of course organisers have a duty to provide proper stewarding of their events, but traffic management is not something that we would ever expect to handle by using volunteers."

There has also been widespread public support, with an Avaaz petition calling for an end to this privatisation of protest so far gathering around 60,000 signatures.