The Conservative Group Leader on Brighton & Hove City Council, Cllr Geoffrey Theobald is calling for a wide-ranging review into the policing of protests and marches in the city following Sunday’s March for England which had a serious negative impact on local traders and cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds to police.
In a Notice of Motion submitted to the Full Council meeting on May 9, Conservatives call on the Council’s Chief Executive to set up a review involving the new Chief Superintendent for Brighton & Hove – Nev Kemp, the Police & Crime Commissioner – Katy Bourne and other key partners of the Council such as business representatives.
In particular, the review should address whether alternative locations can be used for protests, away from the tourist hotspots of the seafront and Laines.
The call for a review is also being supported by local Conservative MPs – MikeWeatherley and Simon Kirby.
Cllr. Theobald said:
“Of course we fully respect the right of individuals and groups to protest and march in the city but this has to be weighed up against the impact it has on the livelihoods of our local traders. Sunday was one of the warmest and sunniest days of the year so far and should have been a bumper day for shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants. Instead any visitors to the seafront would have been greeted by ugly scenes of hatred, violence and hundreds of police officers in riot gear. I am hugely concerned about the damage that this sort of thing does to our reputation as a vibrant tourist destination and we are calling on the main players to sit down and talk about how this can be avoided in the future.”
Simon Kirby MP for Kemptown & Peacehaven, added:
“I was pleased to see on Sunday that a small number of racists who descended on the city were far outnumbered by rational people opposing bigotry. I do have genuine concerns about the impact of the march on tourism and local business, as well as the cost of security which is borne by residents of the city. That is why I think that in future a more appropriate location than the seafront may be found for the demonstration. I also spoke with the policing Minister last night to raise the possibility of additional funding from central Government to help cover the cost of security.”
Mike Weatherley MP for Hove & Portslade, concluded:
“Many people are simply getting fed up with the constant protesting which takes place in the centre of Brighton. It is unpleasant for residents and visitors alike, and traders’ livelihoods are impacted.”