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St Paul's urges London demonstrators to move on

  • 23 October 2011
  • From the section London
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Protesters camped outside St Paul's in London have been urged by the cathedral authorities to move, amid concerns over health and safety and loss of income.

Demonstrators are still camped outside the cathedral, which is holding services behind closed doors for the first time since 1940.

A spokesman told Radio 4's Sunday it was losing between £16,000 and £20,000 a day.

Talks between cathedral staff and protesters continue.

The Reverend Rob Marshall said: "The cathedral needs around £20,000 a day to stay open."

He said it had been a "difficult week" for the cathedral, but "we continue to have quite good relations with those outside in the tents".

"We're still in dialogue with the protesters and asking them to move peacefully. Discussions are going on."

A second camp has now been set up in Finsbury Square by members of Occupy London Stock Exchange (OccupyLSX).

The protesters from OccupyLSX - which highlights what it calls corporate greed and inequality - had been asked by the Dean, the Right Reverend Graeme Knowles, to leave but refused.

A number of the group have now set up the Finsbury Square camp in Islington to reduce the pressure on the confines of St Paul's which is home to a protest now in its eighth day.

One supporter, Ronan McNern, 36, said: "We want to let St Paul's know that we have an overflow camp so we won't be stressing them out so much.

"It was obvious that the camp at St Paul's was expanding and expanding, and this way we can limit the numbers there and ensure there is a site there which fits within the regulations."

'Heavy heart'

But protesters are determined to remain at the site.

Sean, an 18-year-old civil servant who declined to give his surname, said he was prepared to protest until Christmas Day and beyond.

The teenager, who said he had taken a week off work, said: "We have the food and power to stay on and we are abiding by hygiene standards.

"We are not against the church.

"There's confusion as to who owns this land so until they sort that out they cannot move us on."

About 100 people have set up tents in Finsbury Square, a spokesman for the group Bernard Goyder said.

Mr Goyder, 20, of London, said: "We have prioritised health and safety.

"We have families with children here too, so there's no alcohol or drugs, but that's not the point. We're here as part of a political protest.

"We'll stay here as long as we have to."

In a statement published on the cathedral's website, Dean Knowles said Friday's closure decision had been made "with a heavy heart" but it was "simply not possible to fulfil our day-to-day obligations to worshippers, visitors and pilgrims in current circumstances".

The Chancellor of St Paul's, the Reverend Canon Dr Giles Fraser, said he supported the right to peaceful protest but defended the move to turn visitors away.

"Given the strong advice that we have received that the camp is making the Cathedral and its occupants unsafe, then this right has to be balanced against other rights and responsibilities too," he said.

The deadlock at St Paul's did not deter one couple from continuing with their marriage plans in one of its chapels.

PR company account manager Natasha Ighodaro married Nick Cunningham, declaring afterwards that it had been "wonderful, really amazing" and that there "hasn't been any disruption at all".

The area around St Paul's Cathedral

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