Legal action to remove Occupy London protesters from outside St Paul’s Cathedral has resumed after the City of London Corporation said talks had “got nowhere”.
The corporation had offered to give the anti-capitalist demonstrators until the new year to clear the site, but it has now relaunched its legal action after being disappointed with the progress made so far during discussions.
City of London Corporation policy chairman and LondonlovesBusiness.com columnist, Stuart Fraser said: “We paused legal action for two weeks for talks with those in the camp on how to shrink the extent of the tents and to set a departure date – but got nowhere. So, sadly, now they have rejected a reasonable offer to let them stay until the new year, it’s got to be the courts.
“We’d still like to sort this without court action but from now on we will have to have any talks in parallel with court action – not instead.”
It is likely the Occupy LSX protesters will be served with a notice about the legal action on Wednesday after a meeting of the City of London Corporation’s planning and transport committee voted to continue in the courts.
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Fraser added: “We are getting reports about vulnerable people, cases of late-night drinking and other worrying trends, so it’s time to act. It will clearly take time but we are determined to see this through. Lawful protesters who stand or walk are a regular part of London. But tents, equipment and now, increasingly, quite a lot of mess, is not what a highway is for and others are losing out.”
The corporation had decided to pursue legal action some time ago, Fraser said, but “where we’ve had our finger on the pause button, we’ve now taken it off”. Demonstrators must move tents and equipment from the area within 24 hours, they will be told, or else proceedings will begin at the High Court. However, Fraser said protesters had made it clear they “are not going to move any time soon”.
No enforcement action will go ahead without another committee debate, the corporation said, although court action is likely to take weeks. The legal bid does not include tents on St Paul’s Cathedral’s land after it halted its legal action against the demonstrators on November 1.
Local companies have complained about a loss of trade and are now concerned they may lose out on business in the run-up to Christmas, Fraser said.
Occupy LSX spokesman Ronan McNern said: “It’s really sad this is the way the City of London Corporation thought they had to go. To be honest, it’s really disappointing that they cut off the process of dialogue. However, if they want to go down this route we have a legal team who are fully prepared.”