Parliament protesters face action


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The Independent Online

Protesters camping in Parliament Square could finally have their tents removed under a new by-law being introduced by Westminster City Council.

Failure to remove sleeping equipment will result in its seizure and fines of up to £500 under the legislation, expected to take effect by March.

Protesters - led initially by the late peace campaigner Brian Haw - have occupied the pavement opposite the Houses of Parliament for about a decade.

Campaigners set up Democracy Village on the green in May 2010, but were evicted in July by the Greater London Authority following a High Court order.

But some protesters then pitched tents on the pavement next to the lawn.

Now Westminster council is making use of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act, which received Royal Assent in September and gives local authorities the power to seize anything flouting a by-law.

The proposed by-law, which will need to go out to consultation and be approved by the full council, will cover areas including Whitehall, Bridge Street, the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre and Westminster Abbey.

Council leader Colin Barrow said: "We have been calling for action for years and now finally we have the ability to do something about it.

"We are not against public protest, but what we are against is people blighting an English Heritage site and preventing the rest of London, and its visitors from enjoying the square."