GROUPS including Stop the War, CND and the People’s Assembly say they will refuse “outrageous” demands from Scotland Yard that they pay to police themselves at protests.
It emerged earlier this month that Scotland Yard had informed a number of campaign groups that they must pay private firms to take on traffic management for planned demonstrations, saying the force intends to withdraw from the role due to budget cuts.
But yesterday, in a joint statement signed by various groups, campaigners rejected the plans, declaring: “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.”
Stop the War vice-chairman Chris Nineham said: “Before the historic two-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.”
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said that while she recognised the pressures on police due to budget cuts, “it would be 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,” she said.