London

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

  • 24 October 2011
  • From the section London
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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.

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."

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