St Paul's urges London demonstrators to move on


Friday's closure decision is said to be costing the Cathedral about £16,000 a day in lost tourism revenue

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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".

At the scene

By Mario Cacciottolo

The bright Autumn sunlight has given something of a holiday feel to the camp outside St Paul's.

Members of the public, many tourists murmuring gently in their own tongues, are weaving their way through the collection of tents.

They occasionally pause to read the many signs posted on the walls, floor and pillars.

These signs include declarations of how "capitalism is crisis" and how "another world is possible".

The atmosphere is calm and there are only a handful of police to be seen.

Many of those who have come here today seem supportive of the principle of people having the right to express their opinions in the manner of the protest camp.

But, looming above the patchwork quilt of coloured tents, the sombre brown doors of the cathedral form a barrier to those who wanted to experience this historic and holy place.

The subsequent disappointment among some visitors is palpable.

"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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  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    I may be missing something, but I fail to see how a camp of protesters to one of the Cathedral makes it 'unsafe'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    St Pauls Cathedral is wholly funded by tourism and charitable donations, they receive no money from the CofE. 200 staff with salary and pensions are at risk. Go and read the sign on the chain at the entrance of the camp, the H&S risk is pretty obvious to anyone that isn't drunk, stoned or looking for any excuse to avoid leaving. These conspiracy theories are pathetic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    MONEY RULES The one and only reason why one of the richest orginisations in this country now wants the peaceful protesters to move on shame that christiananty no longer exists the one and only god os MONEY

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    They are only there because of St Paul's giving them permission. Now this has been withdrawn if they don't move the police can be called in to deal with the trespassers.
    Funny how they want 'justice' but they don't mind breaking the law themselves. Maybe they should try politics? You know, like everyone else would if they want to enact change. Why are they 'special'?

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Also I despise organised religion, but you must take into account the fact that St Pauls is more than a church. As a symbol of London to visitors it draws people to it and earns money for the country which,as you say, it needs. This influx of visitors also has follow on benefits for other businesses, big and small. The ripples created by the protest affact and hurt many.


Comments 5 of 8


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