I visited St Paul's yesterday to experience the Occupy London campaign for myself and found a bunch of well meaning, law abiding, socially concerned, tidy group of protesters (they are very keen to clear up their own mess). They have occupied the piazza to the side of the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral. Their position is very important as the Dean, the Right Reverend Graeme Knowles, who originally welcomed the protest, now states that it is a health and safety risk. He has closed the doors to the Cathedral, the first time since the Second World War, urging the protesters to leave. The real reason is that St Paul’s is losing £20,000 a day in visitor revenue. Seems the Dean is as interested in money as the people the campaigners are protesting against.
The Health and Safety issue is a total red herring. The only H&S issue I could find was this guy strangling songs in front of the locked doors of the Cathedral.
An ‘Occupying Guide’ has been produced. This 17 point agenda gives advice on how to behave, re-cycle, feed and look after each other. There are numerous workshops from legal advice to political philosophy and the groups very own newspaper is due to be published on Wednesday. A first copy has been ordered by the Museum of London.
These people are not a menace or a H&S risk. They are an inconvenience for the ‘City’, a reminder, least we forget, of the mess we are in.