Scotland Yard is privatising the right to protest

If you want to protest in London you now need to hire a private security firm

TELECOMS? Privatised. Railways? Privatised. Energy? Privatised. Royal Mail? Privatised. The right to protest... privatised?

If you thought the rampant march towards privatisation could hardly go further, you thought wrong.

It has emerged that protest organisers in London have been told that they must fork out thousands of pounds if they want to stage a demonstration against climate change next month.

Campaign Against Climate Change (CACC) says it is effectively being made to "pay to protest" after being told it must hire a private security firm to oversee a march next month.

Following negotiations with the Metropolitan Police, the Greater London Authority and Westminster City Council, the organisers of the Time to Act march have been told that police will not be facilitating their march.

This role, which involves developing a traffic plan and managing the roads on the day, is normally carried out by the Met but from now on the burden will be on the organisers.

"In previous years, the MPS may have undertaken this role but following a review of what services we provide, we have stopped doing this," a Met spokeswoman confirmed, claiming it is a cost-cutting exercise.

Claire James, campaigns officer with CACC told CommonSpace that In the past the police have organised traffic management and organisers only had to notify them of their marching route.

"It is a principle that the right to protest on public roads should not be restricted to people who can afford to pay for it."

"Now they're saying that doesn't fall within core responsibilities," said James. "We're expected to hire a private company and provide accredited stewards to close the roads. It would cost several thousands of pounds that we can't afford."

It seems that the Met's new policy is set to affect all protesters as according to James. Organisers of another protest on the same day, Million Women rise, have been told exactly the same thing.

"It is a principle that the right to protest on public roads should not be restricted to people who can afford to pay for it," said James.

She added that when it comes to energy policy it seems like the UK's politicians "are on a different planet" and said the march is intended to highlight the urgency of climate change.

It is due to take place on 7 March.

Picture by Sebastian Llari

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