**Campaigners will not hire private companies to facilitate demonstrations**
A range of campaign groups, including organisations responsible for some major forthcoming demonstrations in London, today 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, the People's Assembly Against Austerity, CND, the Student Assembly, 350.org, British Muslim Initiative, Friends of the Earth, Defend the Right to Protest, Stand Up To Racism and Unite Against Fascism.
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.
1. Forthcoming planned demonstrations include the following:
- Campaign Against Climate Change: Time To Act, March 7, 2015
- Million Women Rise: March 7, 2015
- Stand Up To Racism: March 21, 2015
- People's Assembly Against Austerity: June 20, 2015
2. Avaaz petition: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/uk_protest_11/
3. Previous press:
Climate change marchers told to hire private security firm Mets refusal to police rally may be human rights breech The Guardian view on the right to protest