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Attack on May Day march rebuffed

30 March 2015

The 2013 London May Day march setting off from Clerkenwell Green. Photo Workers.

South East Region TUC has seen off an attempt to prevent the annual London 2015 May Day march from occurring.

As had happened recently with a march against climate change in London, representatives of the Department of Communities and Local Government tried to shift the policing bill from the offices of the state onto the organisers of the march.

In fact, the only statutory obligation the organisers of the march have is to tell the police it is occurring and agree the route. The march organisers do not have the statutory authority to close roads and re-direct traffic – that rests with the Police, local councils and Mayor’s office.

The suggestion that SERTUC hire a conveniently available private company to police the march was likewise refused.

The rebuff came from a planning meeting with the Metropolitan Police, Transport for London, various local borough councils, Greater London Authority staff plus civil servants.

None of the participants in this planning meeting, bar perhaps the civil servants, had any intention of supporting this proposal – a sign that all those strands of civil society reject the abdication of responsibility espoused by the current government.

Moves to make march organisers foot the policing bill are about preventing the right to protest and march. It is an attempt to privatise the very streets beneath our feet, to undermine the age-old right of access to the highway through toll booths, charges or privatisation.

The only negative about the SERTUC march is likely to be its complete abandonment by British workers, yielding the celebration to London’s migrant and political refugee organisations.