Parliament Square Restored

John Rentoul

pltsq 300x225 Parliament Square RestoredPraise be to the skies. Parliament Square has at last been restored to how it should be. The last remnants of the late Brian Haw’s “peace camp” eyesore were cleared away on Wednesday last week and none of the high horses of antiwar sanctimony even noticed.

The last few placards have continued to clutter the pavement opposite the Houses of Parliament since the large squatter camp was evicted from the grass in the middle of the square three years ago.

A Westminster council spokesman told a colleague of mine:

The council cleared the site as no one had been there for 48 hours, so it was cleared under waste removal powers.

Also, some of the materials taken away are regarded as camping equipment which are illegal under Westminster by-laws – a good analogy is if someone emptied a house out in Whitehall and left the waste on the street the council would clear it away.

Our most recent comment is below:

Westminster City Council leader, Cllr Philippa Roe, said: “We have worked hard to find a solution to this problem without prohibiting the rights for free speech and protests.

“However, for some time what is a public open space has been dominated by tents and encampments which have restricted its use. The High Court also took this view after a full and fair hearing. It concluded the protesters did not have the right to inhabit a public square designed for everyone to use.

“Throughout this process we have sought to find a solution by talking to the protesters involved. People will always be allowed to protest in Parliament Square – what is not reasonable is setting up permanent camps there. Westminster is not a campsite.”

What an excellent way to mark the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq (20 March), although Haw’s camp actually started, in June 2001, in protest against sanctions against Iraq. Really, he should have supported the invasion as a way of lifting the burden of sanctions from the Iraqi people.

Photograph: Christopher Hope

Previously about Brian Haw.

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  • welldoneson

    Always amused how these protesters defend their campouts by pointing out that it’s a public space. Makes no sense to any rational thinking person; so, do the math! The protesters are in no way rational, in fact if you ask them a question about something they weren’t coached on they look as dumb as a deer caught by headlights. And that’s awfully dumb.

  • pithygirl

    But the traffic ruins the area as Parliament square is marooned in the midst of danger, noise and diesel pollution – pedestrian can not enjoy it; why not make it a pleasant world square?

  • John Rentoul

    I agree with you, but my Parliament office overlooks the Square and there are tourists enjoying it all the time.

  • creggancowboy

    I had the honour & pleasure of meeting Brian in July 2005 when I came back from Belarus where, unlike Britain, I could photograph buildings without being arrested.

  • Whyshouldihavetoregister

    ‘were cleared away,’ you mean.

  • porkfright

    Well we know that there are plenty in this country who would like to see the end of any right to criticise or protest. Trouble is, once we have peace protesters removed forcibly, events like those of 1933 in some European country may soon follow. What goes around has an alarming habit of coming around.

  • John Rentoul


  • Pacificweather

    Protest is inconvenient, better to pass laws to take away their citizenship and have them killed by American drones. That is the New Labour way, that’s the coalition way. That’s the British way. Internment without trial, that’s the despotism we do so well. You are proud of it. You think that is the way a civilised country should behave. As always, you deceive yourself. Only today we see who the real terrorists are but you are not satisfied with them, you want to make thousands more. You will almost certainly succeed.

  • Stupidity Exterminator

    What a petty person you are. Perhaps you’d like to express your views on the subject matter as opposed to picking up little typos. One word – sad.

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