Occupy campers to leave ahead of eviction order

Demo: The council is taking action to evict the campers from Princes Street Gardens
Demo: The council is taking action to evict the campers from Princes Street Gardens
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PROTESTORS camping in Princes Street Gardens have hinted they may be about to leave the city centre landmark as the council prepared to clear them by force.

Members of Occupy Edinburgh – who say they are fighting corporate greed – have been sleeping in pitched tents in the Gardens since last Saturday.

Council bosses have already ordered the group to leave and it is understood an eviction could be under way by the end of next week.

But speaking to the Evening News after a sixth night spent in freezing temperatures, one camper said the group could disband voluntarily “in the next few days”, although he insisted the Occupy protest would continue elsewhere in the Capital.

The 22-year-old camper from Dalkeith, who identified himself as Martin Occupier, admitted sleeping in the Gardens in bitterly cold temperatures had been “hard”.

He said: “It hasn’t been easy and I have slept more comfortably, but we are keeping warm and we’re determined to keep going.”

He insisted he and his fellow protestors had not been phased by news that council preparations for an eviction were under way.

“The Occupy movement puts every council in an awkward position but what we are fighting for is a bit more important than lying on a bit of grass,” he said.

“We are aware that moves against us have been initiated but the Occupy movement will not die. We are here to inform the public and spread the word.

“This camp is meant to be a message to let people know that there are still serious issues that need to be addressed – issues about global injustice, financial injustice, and questions of the environment such as fracking, which is about to hit West Lothian in a big way.”

He said he was one of five overnight campers in the Gardens but added that group numbers could swell to around 20 during the day.

“It varies – we’re not all jobless and homeless people,” he said. “A good half of us have jobs at the moment.”

He also confirmed the camp would continue as a mobile protest, moving from site to site and avoiding the need for city chiefs to send in bailiffs.

He said: “The plan is to make it a roving camp and we will be long gone before any eviction is started. We are not about costing the public purse.

“It’s extremely doubtful that there will be a prominent camp in the near future – this being the time of year it is.

“This is a temporary camp. It will move from place to place as long as there are people willing to take part.”

Council chiefs reiterated that the campers were in breach of city bylaws and that legal proceedings which could result in their eviction had been initiated.

Councillor Cammy Day, the Capital’s community safety leader, said: “We have met with Occupy Edinburgh and informed them that they are in breach of the council’s park management rules by camping in Princes Street Gardens.

“As a result we have now started legal proceedings.”