St Paul's camp: Occupy London is 'tourist attraction'


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 outside St Paul's Cathedral have become a tourist attraction, creating "a booming trade" for some local businesses, organisers have said.

The cathedral in London closed its doors on Friday, saying the activists' camp created health and safety issues.

But demonstrators "have done so much to ensure that St Paul's can remain open", said Ronan McNern, spokesman for Occupy London Stock Exchange (OLSX).

Campaign group UK Uncut has said it will join the activists.

It planned a march to Whitehall on Monday afternoon, to demand the resignation of HM Revenue and Customs' chief executive, Dave Hartnett.

It claims Revenue and Customs allows some big companies to avoid making certain payments.

'Good relations'

The OLSX protesters have been camped at the site since 15 October, highlighting what they call corporate greed and inequality.

They 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.

The Reverend Rob Marshall said it had been a "difficult week" for St Paul's, 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," he said.

What's the point of the protest?

In the Times Libby Purves urges protesters to move on because she says "it is impossible to think of any clear, feasible action by an elected government that would satisfy and shift them".

But protesters Naomi Colvin and Kai Wargalla say in the Guardian that not having a set agenda is deliberate. "We're in the business of defining process, and specific demands will evolve from this in time" they say.

Mr McNern said it was "the cathedral's decision to close, supposedly for health and safety reasons".

"But the rest of the restaurants and cafes around the square are doing a booming trade and have no health and safety issues.

"It's great to see tourists taking an interest, and hopefully that will help us get the dialogue we want so we can change the current situation," he added.

A second camp has now been set up in Finsbury Square by campaigners to ease numbers, but those outside St Paul's have pledged to remain there indefinitely.

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."

The area around St Paul's Cathedral

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  • rate this

    Comment number 864.

    Real shame that St Paul's chose to act as they have but they would have come under a lot of pressure from the City of London so they shouldn't be blamed.

    I live round the corner from St Paul's and i can only back up what the protestors are saying.

    Not that they have the numbers to change anything but well done for having a go.

  • rate this

    Comment number 781.

    St. Paul's didn't need to close. The protesters, far from being the crowd of troublemakers the cathedral staff seems to think it is, is rather a crowd of ordinary, downtrodden young Brits who just want a better life. They have not caused any trouble, to speak of, and are not likely to cause any. They are THEMSELVES a good source of local business.

  • rate this

    Comment number 756.

    Looking at the picture above, I'm at a lose as to why the church needs to close its doors. The steps at the front of the building are clear. Surely there are doors the public can use on the othere two sides?

    Am I missing something here?

  • rate this

    Comment number 421.

    to those who work 12 hour days and pay their taxes. they would work less and share the work more evenly, pay less tax and be able to enjoy their free time more IF the rich and powerfull were made to share the tax burdon and the banks and bankers were truly penalised for the economic mess we have been left with. i support the protest it may even be a bit to passive but be careful what you wish for!

  • rate this

    Comment number 400.

    St Paul's need for income isn't a sympton of greed, it's a sympton of necessity - all old buildings cost a significant amount in upkeep, particularly one of the size of St Paul's - it does also have staff to pay, none of whom get paid a fortune.


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