St Paul's protest: Eviction notices put up at camp

George Barda and Chloe Ruthven of Occupy spoke to the BBC

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Eviction notices have been attached to tents at a protest camp outside St Paul's Cathedral.

The City of London Corporation notice tells Occupy London Stock Exchange (OLSX) activists to clear the "public highway" by 18:00 GMT on Thursday.

Tents pitched on land belonging to the cathedral are exempt from the evictions.

An OLSX protester said there was "no intention to leave" and many notices had been ripped off the tents.

Protester Ronan McNern said the group would discuss the "rationale and contents of the notice".

'Peaceful resolution'

But he claimed the civic authorities "have not engaged in a transparent dialogue" with the activists.

The corporation resumed action against the camp, which has been outside the cathedral for a month, after talks failed.

If the protesters refuse to clear the area specified in the notice, the corporation said it would begin legal proceedings at the High Court to seek their eviction.

The Occupy movement said its protest aimed to highlight the issues of inequality and corporate greed.

The eviction notice is addressed to "each and every person taking part in and/or having erected tents or other structures at St Paul's Cathedral".

Tents outside St Paul's Cathedral St Paul's Cathedral suspended its legal action against the demonstration earlier this month

It reads: "If any tents and other structures remain after 6pm on Thursday 17th November 2011, proceedings for possession and injunctions will be issued in the High Court of Justice without further notice.

"Any attempt to establish another protest camp consisting of tents and other structures elsewhere in the City of London Corporation's area will be likely to be the subject of immediate further proceedings without further notice."

A map issued by the corporation has divided the camp into a "red" highway area and "green" area in front of the cathedral, and the authority said it was seeking to clear both areas.

Luca, 25, from Heidelberg in Germany, had been at the camp since 15 October and told BBC London "some guys from the City of London Corporation came by and put up notices, and this was taken down. And most people weren't notified."

He added: "It's going to take a few weeks. It's been like this since day one. If they take the camp down, we'll just put it up somewhere else."

Another member of the protest, Dan Ashman, 27, from Leicester, said: "I think we're still looking into who owns this [land], because it's still contested."

He said the eviction was "one of the cards they held in their hands to play". He said the protesters had come up with a counter proposal, saying they would "continue to negotiate in exchange for more transparency" from the financial institutions.

By the BBC's Stephen Dowling at the OLSX camp

A few hours after the City of London Corporation handed out the eviction notices, there was no sign of anyone at the camp taking any heed of it.

Protesters gathered in the university tent or chatted to reporters and camera crews.

Police in high-vis jackets watched calmly from behind barriers, while tourists treated the impromptu "tent city" as if it was a pop-up tourist attraction.

The occupants of the square did not seem rattled, nor overly concerned at the latest attempt to move them along.

Steve Rushton, 30, from Southampton, said: "Despite their actions, we are continuing the dialogue that's gone on here at OLSX and more places across the world to create a coherent alternative to the current system which is undemocratic, unsustainable and unequal."

If matters go to the court the corporation said it would seek "an injunction requiring you [the protesters] to remove the tents and other structures from the red and green land".

A statement from the Chapter of St Paul's said: "We recognise the local authority's statutory right to proceed with the action it has today.

"We have always desired a peaceful resolution and the Canons will continue to hold regular meetings with representative of the protesters.

"We remain committed to continuing and developing the agenda on some of the important issues raised by the protest."

'Thank You' party

On Tuesday, Stuart Fraser, the corporation's policy chairman, said the authority had paused legal action for two weeks as both sides discussed the size of the camp and a "departure date" for the demonstration.

He said: "They have rejected a reasonable offer to let them stay until the new year; it's got to be the courts."

Tents outside St Paul's Cathedral Occupy London demonstrators set up the camp on 15 October

St Paul's Cathedral suspended its legal action against the demonstration earlier this month following the resignation of its dean and two other senior members.

A spokesman said the cathedral chapter would meet later to discuss its response to the latest development.

Earlier on Wednesday, about 20 protesters "dressed as bankers" gathered outside City Hall for a demonstration.

The activists said it was a "thank you party" for London Mayor Boris Johnson, who they said had "stood by [the bankers] through thick and thin".

The group tried to enter the premises but said they were stopped at the door.

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