Students ‘kettle’ Universities Minister David Willetts' car in London

 

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The Independent Online

Angry students blockaded a Government minister’s car last Thursday, as part of their May Day demonstrations, until police removed them from the road.

David Willetts, Minister of State for Universities and Science, had been giving a talk at UCL before students surrounded his vehicle, blocking Gordon Street in central London for around half an hour.

Earlier in the day more than 50 students had tried to storm UCL’s Darwin Building to protest against proposed cuts to the disabled students’ allowance and the Conservative MP’s involvement in the tuition fee increase, prompting security staff to call the police.

Some students managed to get inside the event and later revealed themselves as protesters, interrupting Willetts’ talk with a speech on education cuts.

Speaking after the talk, ULU President Michael Chessum told The Independent: “Today’s protest was about the horrific things the Government is doing to education, including major cuts to the disabled students’ allowance. It was a protest against Willetts but also the nature of the way universities are run.”

Chessum later responded to police behaviour, tweeting: “David Willetts needed a lot of police vans & a hefty dose of brutality to get off campus today. Probably not a good sign for an HE minister”.

Rachel O’Brien, a Birmingham University student at the protest, said of the proposed cuts to the DSA: “Obviously students already have a problem accessing higher education. Some people may not be able to access it at all.”

Speaking on Friday, a UCL spokesperson said: “While we are still in the process of investigating exactly what happened at last night’s meeting, initial reports from those present suggest that some of the actions of protesters were completely unacceptable, and potentially placed people attending the meeting and UCL staff in danger.”

In response to the blockading of Willetts’ car, a Met Police spokesperson said officers acted to prevent obstruction of the highway and confirmed no arrests were made.

The protest comes after a lull in student demonstrations since around 80 protesters stormed Senate House in late February.

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