Occupy protesters square up to campsite eviction threat

Protesters agreed at yesterday's meeting to clean up the square but refused to leave
Protesters agreed at yesterday's meeting to clean up the square but refused to leave
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OCCUPY Edinburgh protesters have set themselves on a collision course with the authorities after pledging to remain at St Andrew Square indefinitely.

Members of the movement said they would clean up the civic square but voted against moving out at a meeting yesterday.

The decision came despite growing anger on the part of the public and local businesses.

Yesterday, the Evening News told how Essential Edinburgh, the business group that manages the square, said forced eviction was now on the cards after weeks of failed negotiations.

Chief executive Andy Neal today said: “It would be very difficult for them to now to put the case forward that they can simply tidy up the camp and remain as they are.”

Mr Neal said that action was likely to be taken to remove the protesters from the camp.

He added: “It’s quite likely that will be the case. We’ve already said eviction is one of the options open to us and we’ll use that if we think it’s the most appropriate way forward.

“I don’t want to say what the next steps are, because I haven’t heard exactly what their proposals are, but all of the issues discussed previously are still there. The fact of the matter is [the decision to stay] it is not up to them.”

Mr Neal added that he would be meeting with the camp before a decision on the next step is taken.

Essential Edinburgh has received complaints from businesses around the square and in George Street concerned at the level of mess.

The George Hotel said its guests were scared to walk through the space because they claimed it no longer appeared safe. Police have also been called to a spate of incidents in recent weeks, which the protesters insisted had largely been caused by troublemakers from outside the camp.

As with other cities around the world, the Occupy Edinburgh group set up camp nearly three months ago in protest at social and economic inequality.

After a four-hour meeting at a church in Shandwick Place, Occupy Edinburgh said: “We are glad to hear that Eton graduate David Cameron has at least started talking about limiting excessive executive pay, but talking is not good enough. Occupy Edinburgh plan to continue as long as these gross inequalities are allowed to exist.

“The meeting held today brought everyone back together following the holidays with a renewed enthusiasm.

“In order to make our message clearer we hope to create new policies to develop St Andrew Square as a safe, welcoming and family space.”