DAY 3337 22nd July 2010
MPs’ fury at new protest camp
on Parliament Square pavement
MPs today voiced their anger over a new protest camp set up only yards from where Democracy Village was dismantled.
A group of demonstrators who were evicted from Parliament Square on Tuesday are now living in tents on the pavement bordering the site.
Politicians called the affair a “total farce”, saying the cluster of about 15 tents is just as big an eyesore as before.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Conservative MP for Kensington and Chelsea, said: “It is a completely unacceptable situation. There are the same problems as before, with waste and litter and general unsightliness.
"I am in support of amending any legislation that allows for these people to stay on the pavement on a technicality.
“I just hope they will be removed quickly and successfully. If nothing is done, they will just stay there and hang on for as long as they can.”
A former Labour minister said: “It is a total farce — they have just moved from the grass to the pavement. It is as big an eyesore as ever it was. They should have been hosed off the square months ago and not allowed to come back. Why can't the Mayor and the other authorities get their act together?”
Fifty bailiffs went to the site at 1am on Tuesday after the Court of Appeal ruled that the camp, set up by protesters against the war in Afghanistan, be dismantled. Mayor Boris Johnson had taken legal action to have the campaigners evicted. But one group simply pitched their tents alongside long-time anti-war protester Brian Haw, who was not affected by the court decision.
Westminster City Council, which is responsible for the pavement, said the estimated cost to the taxpayer since May 1, when the “village” was set up, has been £300,000 to cover legal fees and cleaning. A spokesman said the authority did not want any more public money wasted on attempts to move the protesters.
But Mark Field, Tory MP for the Cities of London & Westminster, said: “It's a mess and I will be getting on to the Metropolitan Police. I know that Brian Haw's position is protected, but the courts did not say others could simply join him.
“Presumably this is going to make a lot of lawyers even richer as they go through yet more legal procedures to remove these people.”
The MPs spoke out as it emerged that work to restore the square could take at least two months and cost £50,000. The demonstrators' 40 tents, huge marquee, vegetable garden, field kitchen and makeshift latrines have had a detrimental impact on the grassy Unesco World Heritage site.
Patches of the ornamental garden are yellowed, while other sections of lawn were churned into mudbaths in heavy rain.
But despite the cost and the damage caused, the remaining protesters said they are determined to hang on.
One, who would only give his name as Luke, said: “My brother was killed in Afghanistan when I was just 15 so I have a genuine interest in this protest.”
The 22-year-old carpenter and plumber from Edmonton added: “I resisted their attempts to remove me on Tuesday and delayed the operation for hours. I will do the same if they try to move me from here.”
by Kiran Randhawa
comments by Evening Standard readers:
>>>> source >>>>
Can't be bothered reading all of your comments, I didn't say they would eat the veg, you'd be surprised how well plants deal with pollution.
Kay Burley ate my hamster, Hackney, London, 22/07/2010 17:27
why not let them move into No 10
dave, london, 22/07/2010 17:05
@Kay Burley ate my hamster, Hackney
So you say Parliament Square is "almost impossible to use with the fog of exhaust fumes" yet the protestors were "growing vegetables there"?! If your assessment of the area was correct I don't think those vegetables would've tasted very good, maybe not even grown at all.
But the fact that the protestors were supposedly growing vegetables sums up exactly why they had to be removed.
It is not their land to do whatever they see fit with. It's not a campsite or an area for permanent living. By encamping there permanently the protestors are denying everybody else the right to use the square, including other protests!
What of the "right to protest" of others who want to use the square? No doubt they'd be treading on Democracy Village's vegetable patches if they did.
All of those defending the protestors can bleat on about how it's their right to protest and how the square is unuseable otherwise, but you are just being entirely hypocritical. It obviously IS useable, as these protestors have proven, but by making a permanent encampment in the square the protestors are inhibiting everybody else's right to protest on or use the area.
Democracy Village's entire existence was utterly hypocritical and self-defeating. If the remaining protestors had any sense or humility they would accept that they have made a good fist of their protest but it's now time to move on.
Ricky, London, 22/07/2010 17:03
Churchill must be looking down from his statue thinking what a joke this government is as they could not even punch their way out of a paper bag let alone win WW2 .
john, london, 22/07/2010 16:40
@The Convenient Truth
No, of course not. How dare you make sweeping assumptions about my position? UKIP, the Countryside Alliance and the BNP all have a right to protest. I would opose them in a personal capacity, but support their right to be there, and oppose any attempt to deny them that righ.
Richard Moore, London, 22/07/2010 15:48
How do I find a balance between splendid @gwilymm and sympa @Kate, and her vegetables (if they are still there)?. Maybe there's more to debate around the green now than in the ignorable hallowed halls opposite.
Steve, London, England, 22/07/2010 15:30
And what precisely are the police in this photo doing. OK, I know the answer, nothing. And why are there two of them? And why do they always patrol as male and female? I thought the Commissioner had put a stop to that but obviously they have not obeyed his orders, they never do.
Stephen C, London, 22/07/2010 14:30
Have they tried spray-cleaning all the pavements around parliament with a high pressure fire hose every night at 3am?
Methinks that would discourage most of them. Sometimes we are just too nice.
Nigel, London, 22/07/2010 13:54
now mp's know how people feel when the gypsies set up camp outside their homes
john mckim, glasgow.uk, 22/07/2010 13:46
Just Think ! if we had democracy in this country there would be no need for protest... !
ps since the news media as usual is denying a free people the right to comment...here is mine on Tomlinson,is,nt this case typically the reason why Moat got so much support. !
moronamid, London England, 22/07/2010 13:41
To the Convenient truth
Yes I would support all those that wish to protest. Regardless of the assumptions being made by others - sweaty hippies, benefit scroungers and the generally dirty unwashed - why are all protests by "dirty unwashed people" - do tidy people have nothing to protest about? The reason I would support them is because protesting around parliament square is now illegal without permission - and Westminster is bound to give permission to hold a protest like this of course - please explain what the point of banning protest around our parliament is? Surely thats precisely where a protest should quite rightly take place?
or is it just because the "dirty smelly hippies" are unseemly? Hmmm.........
Freedom, Tunbridge Wells, kent, 22/07/2010 13:36
To those who think this is civilised protest, in the 1960s the CND marches used to end up with a sit down protest in and around Trafalger Square. The police soon cleared them off with a few sore heads and black eys on both sides; and some prosecutions for Public Order offences.
A good time was had by all and Trafalgar Square was open for traffic and pedestrians use the next day.
BJ, East London, 22/07/2010 13:05
Can you imagine the stench? The fetid putrescence emanating from the overflowing sweat glands of those filthy hippies?
Bring on the water cannon, I say. Public health is more important than the hurt feelings of a few workshy scroungers!
Kate, Harrow, London, UK, 22/07/2010 12:48
To Richard Moore & Flo,
This is an attractive & historically significant public space.
Why should it be defaced by a gang of work shy crusties ?
Will your love of "protest" extend to the BNP setting up camp in our Parliament Square ?
How about activists from The Campaign for More Nuclear Power ?
How about the Conservatives, UKIP, ?
The New National Front ?
The Countryside Alliance ?
The Campaign for Reintroducing Capital Punishment ?
I suspect your democratic love of protest only extends to causes you support.
The Convenient Truth, Reading, England, 22/07/2010 12:40
@Richard Moore, London - "It's not actually a Unesco World Heritage Site. The grassy square is not included. I'm shocked at some of these comments. This country has a proud history of political protest and I salute these protesters for keeping this spirit alive, despite adversity from authoritarian politicians and thick Evening Standard readers."
Hear Hear Richard. It may be 'unsightly' but at least they have the courage of their convictions to make a protest.
Perhaps that is really why the politicians mind?
flo, London, UK, 22/07/2010 12:23
Given that this is a pavement no one can normally reach given that its in a constant traffic flow no one is going to be affected from the pedestrian point of view.
Things could have been much different had Boris not cancelled the part pedestrianisation of Parliament Square which would have made it more difficult to set up the camp as tourists would be using the square.
Anyway dont they know their is another area of grass opposite parliament which TV companies used in the election this is now spare for 5 more years!!
Melvyn Windebank, Canvey Island, Essex, 22/07/2010 12:19
@Kay Burley ate my hamster...It's not like it was better looking before blah blah blah
Why, are you one the skanks that is hanging around there? What are this load of parasites contributing to? because it aint to the good of this country. Get the Benefit bods down there and check them all out, find out who getting benefits and when they last looked for work and stop their handouts because it won't be recentley....bloody dross.
Gary, Surrey, 22/07/2010 12:13
MPs today voiced their anger - ooo scarey!!
Politicians called the affair a “total farce” - who created the rules??
bobby, berks, 22/07/2010 12:11
I'm sure if a reasonably sized fire was started the high pressure hoses would soon turn up.........
Anon, London, 22/07/2010 12:06
@Kay Burley ate my hamster.
Just because Hackney is an overpriced expensive crap hole Parliament Square does not have to be turned into something similar. You don't have to sit in Parliament Square if you don't wish to, but there are many, like me, who regularly used to sit in the Square, before the rabble took over the place and completely ruined it, just to watch London go by whilst visiting Parliament itself or the nearby Abbey and it's stunning old buildings.
pete, coulsdon uk, 22/07/2010 12:04
Now the MPs know how it feels when the great unwashed pitch up and spoil their area. Ditto thousands of honest taxpayers who have to put up with the travelling community blighting their countryside.
Pat, London, 22/07/2010 12:03
It's not actually a Unesco World Heritage Site. The grassy square is not included.
I'm shocked at some of these comments. This country has a proud history of political protest and I salute these protesters for keeping this spirit alive, despite adversity from authoritarian politicians and thick Evening Standard readers.
Richard Moore, London, 22/07/2010 12:01
Flashmob, Parliament Square, 1600 today, let's clear the square ourselves.
Don, Sheen, 22/07/2010 12:00
Shockingly, some people don't understand that you can't arrest someone on the grounds of 'being unsightly'. The fact that both the MPs and the few commenters feel that the look of the place is more important than the message the protesters are trying to convey is both saddening and shocking.
Judging by the picture, the protesters are no more in the way than the green tarpaulins put up by the maintenance people.
Whilst I support the action to remove the protesters from the grass (the fact is you can be held accountable for criminal damage, even if it is through sheer idiocy), I feel that removing these people from the area really would be a breakdown of civil rights.
Richard, London, UK, 22/07/2010 11:54
If this were any other country they'd have put the hosepipe on them ages ago. I'm waiting for the day Britain gets its balls back (and its respect).
Sue, Kent, 22/07/2010 11:47
The laws of the land, and their enforcement no longer meet the needs of the good people.
Don, Sheen, 22/07/2010 11:35
If the police were allowed to police without a crowd of anarchists, wet lefties and compensation addicts waiting to scream police brutality, they would be cleared. Stop slagging off the police and get rid of this scumbag crowd once and for all.
BJ, East London, 22/07/2010 11:33
Our government & our whole way of life is being ridiculed by these self satisfied scroungers. Are they in receipt of grants from the Arts Council or the EU ?
They certainly can't be on benefits, as they are not available for work.
The Convenient Truth, Reading, England, 22/07/2010 11:30
Just drag them away - end of!
If they resist, then get the dogs & batons out!
I'm sick of those "people" being there.
Scott, Docklands, London, 22/07/2010 10:58
Isn't there a law about obstructing pavements? Why does it take so long for the police to move into action?
Ian, London, 22/07/2010 10:57
andy, highgate, 22/07/2010 10:54
Oooh a picture, well those green tarps are much better aren't they?? Can we not just let them protest instead of turning London into an Olde English themeparke???
Kay Burley ate my hamster, Hackney, London, 22/07/2010 10:47
This lot who every day, and all day just sit, they don't
work they must be on some sort of Income support,
Why not stop it and make them "GET A JOB"
Richard, Rayleigh, 22/07/2010 10:47
If I were to stop there for a few moments with my bike, or stopped to take a photograph, I would be dragged away immediately.
Patrick, Dalston, 22/07/2010 10:42
Somewhere amongst water cannon, flame-throwers, grapeshot, machine-guns and a Cossack sabre charge lies a reasonable solution.
gwilym rhys-jones, marbella spain, 22/07/2010 10:42
It's not like it was any better looking before, this is a scraggly patch of threadbare grass on a roundabout, it's almost impossible to use with the fog of exhaust fumes and really is not a nice place to spend time.
These protesters are the first people to put it to good use from what I can see. They were growing vegetables there, what are Westminster Council growing? Nothing but hatred of people exercising their right to protest.
Kay Burley ate my hamster, Hackney, London, 22/07/2010 10:42