Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Mayor joins Bishop of London asking St Paul's campers to go

London's mayor has joined the Bishop of London in calling on anti-capitalist protesters camped outside St Paul's Cathedral "to go".
Boris Johnson, who met with cathedral and police officals, said: "They have made their point, they have to go."
Earlier the Rt Revd Richard Chartres said the camp's presence threatened "to eclipse" the issues being raised.
Occupy London Stock Exchange (OLSX) said it was "open to dialogues" but intended to remain at the site.
The camp was set up 11 days ago and led to the closure of the cathedral on Friday on health and safety grounds.
The OLSX activists said they were protesting at what they call corporate greed and inequality.
A spokesperson for the mayor said: "The mayor met with representatives from the Corporation of London, St Paul's Cathedral and the police yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon and is assured that everyone is working together to find a solution."
'Mixed messages' The bishop, the third most senior cleric in the Church of England, said: "This demonstration has undoubtedly raised a number of very important questions.
"The St Paul's Institute has itself focused on the issue of executive pay and I am involved in ongoing discussions with City leaders about improving shareholder influence on excessive remuneration.
"Nevertheless, the time has come for the protesters to leave, before the camp's presence threatens to eclipse entirely the issues that it was set up to address.
"The Dean and the Chapter, who are responsible for St Paul's, have already made it clear that the protest should come to an end and I fully support that view."
Ronan McNern, from OLSX, said the group was getting "mixed messages" as St Paul's Cathedral cited health and safety issues for closing the building to the public while the Bishop of London "did not reference the central issue".


BBC London gave a form to 150 of the protesters asking them about themselves. The following is a snapshot of the protest camp makeup:
  • 81 out of 150 say they go home at night
  • 69 say they are unemployed
  • 50 say they have been to five or more demos in the last year
  • 39 say they receive benefits
  • 35 say they are students
Mr McNern said: "The Bishop of London's comment has nothing to do with health and safety, he has only talked about business.
"We are getting completely mixed messages. The bishop should get involved in some of our discussions (with the St Paul's Cathedral).
"We do want open dialogue and we do not want to be engaged in a battle in the media."
The Dean of St Paul's Cathedral, Rt Revd Graeme Paul Knowles, had repeatedly asked the protesters to leave before deciding to close its gates for the first time since World War II.
Demonstrators have refused several requests from church officials to move on.
The cathedral said it was losing up to £20,000 a day and held its Sunday services in private for the first time since 1940.
Meanwhile OLSX demonstrators have denied claims that several tents were unoccupied overnight.
The group said it has a "sign in/sign out system" in place to keep "vacancy to a minimum".
Earlier a City of London councillor, Matthew Richardson, claimed several empty tents were revealed by a thermal imaging camera used by City of London Police to monitor the camp.

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