Unsung heroes to have pride of place for Royal Wedding

Plans for voluntary groups to be located on Parliament Square in place of anti-war protesters

GUIDES, scouts and cadets should be given pride of place on Parliament Square for the royal wedding once anti-war protesters are removed says Westminster Council.

The council says it wants London’s ‘unsung heroes’, in the form of voluntary and community groups, to be located on the square for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding on April 29.

It is currently waiting on an application to the High Court for an injunction to have all protesters removed from the square’s pavement for blocking the public highway.

Westminster Council leader Colin Barrow says he hopes Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Prime Minister David Cameron will back the idea.

He said: “The royal wedding provides a unique opportunity to showcase everything that is great in the capital with Parliament Square and Westminster Abbey at its focal point.

“William and Kate have made it clear that they wish to have a different style of wedding and to share it with as many people as possible.

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“So what better way to reclaim the square than to give it over on the day itself for the use of community and voluntary groups from across London who do so much fantastic work?

“Such voluntary groups could include, for example, scouts, guides, forces cadets, St John’s Ambulance and the Red Cross to name but a few.

“And what better message to give to the rest of the world in how much London values these groups?”

Last month around 30 protesters were served legal letters by the council instructing them to clear their belongings from the footway around the square but nine tents and numerous placards remain.

Those occupying the tents – collectively dubbed Democracy Village – moved on to the pavement after being evicted from the main square last July.

Cllr Barrow said: “No one has a problem with lawful and peaceful protest. It is one of the key rights that any democracy should guard jealously.

“But the activities in Parliament Square have gone beyond that and have moved over the last ten years into, I believe, unauthorised occupation.

“The result, as anyone who has seen the square recently will testify, is an ongoing eyesore with a rambling mess of tents and other temporary structures.

“What should be a jewel in London’s heritage and an open space to be enjoyed at the heart of the country’s democracy is closed off and boarded up.”

Human rights organisations Liberty and Justice have been critical of the decision to remove protesters.

Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti said: “Foreign dignitaries visiting the royal wedding should know they are in the United Kingdom, not the People’s Republic of China.

“Politicians should be proud to celebrate our traditions of tolerance and dissent rather than seeking to tidy away protesters or homeless people from public gaze. It is hard to believe that the Royal Family would want such a clearance carried out in its name.”

Under the council’s proposals, each London borough would provide details of suitable voluntary or community groups to be located on the square.

Cliff Jordan, 8th St Marylebone Scout Club group leader, welcomed the idea and said it would be an exciting day for his group.

“We would be interested without a shadow of a doubt,” he said.

“For royal weddings in the past the scouts have often been there helping out in some capacity.

“I think it’s right that Westminster Council should recognise us. It would be fantastic.”