Thousand of activists head for London 'summit'

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Indy Politics

The Millennium Dome is to become a giant hotel for thousands of anti-global-isation activists next weekend as London's Mayor, Ken Livingstone, attempts to avoid a city-wide accommodation crisis.

Up to 30,000 visitors from across Europe are expected to attend the annual activists' "summit", the conference of the European Social Forum. At least 5,000 of them will pay £10 for a berth in the Dome, with space for a sleeping bag and shower facilities.

The Greater London Authority is spending up to £500,000 to help organise the conference. It culminates with a demonstration through central London which organisers hope will attract 100,000 people. The first 20,000 activists will also be given a free London travel pass.

The annual event, now in its third year, is one of the biggest international gatherings of activists, trade unions and campaigners. Two years ago the Paris summit attracted 60,000 people and organised the synchronised global protests against the war in Iraq.

Speakers this year include Mr Livingstone, Jose Bove, the French farmer who took on iconic status among anti-globalisation activists after he was jailed for destroying a branch of McDonald's, Pete Doherty, the singer of the Libertines, the Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, Asha D of the south London rap group So Solid Crew, and the film-maker Ken Loach. There will also be campaigners from India, Ghana and Nigeria.

The World Development Movement, which is helping to organise the Forum, described it as "a broad alliance of people across the spectrum of progressive politics to discuss how to make the world a better place."

A spokesman for the forum said: "The Millennium Dome is a big tent. We've got at least 5,000 people coming from Europe, and we were wondering how to find them affordable accommodation. So we thought, stick them in the Dome."