Occupy campers want city to provide a permanent site

Protesters say they will take action if the council moves them on
Protesters say they will take action if the council moves them on
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The Occupy Edinburgh group today pledged to escalate its protest to include “direct action” if the city council refuses to grant it a permanent camp site.

Protesters gave the warning as legal papers were lodged at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday to remove the camp from the Meadows.

The anti-inequality group has requested a disused building or piece of land to operate in as an alternative to occupying public spaces.

Occupy members left St Andrew Square peacefully last week, days before Essential Edinburgh was due to evict them, but set up camp at the Meadows on Monday.

The city council has made it clear that no camping is allowed on the site and will not negotiate.

Tomorrow, a city sheriff will consider whether to grant an eviction order paving the way for a forced removal.

Today, campaigner Mike Ferrigan warned that the group would carry out “direct action” against the local authority.

In November, the council passed a motion which recognised the aims of the Occupy movements.

He told the Evening News: “We would peacefully vacate [the Meadows] if we had somewhere to set up an office.

“The council recognises our right to occupy, but has so far refused to meet with us to reach a compromise.

“If the eviction does go ahead we’ll be looking at occupying other pieces of public land, public parks, empty buildings.

“It may mean a constant eviction process for the council.

“It may also mean an escalation of activities against the council, potentially direct action, continuing right up until the Festival.”

Fellow member, Pete Nicholson, 26, said: “There are hundreds of buildings empty across the city which could be put to use. We want to be able to host sports, events, meetings, a speaker’s corner.

“All of this could be possible if the council will sit down and discuss some of our suggestions but there is an unwillingness to do that.”

Currently around half a dozen members of the movement are camped on the public grounds close to Jawbone Walk.

Councillor Robert Aldridge, the city’s environment leader, said: “We have had regular discussions with the Occupy Edinburgh protesters since they turned up in the Meadows on Monday. They have ignored our repeated requests to leave so we have started the legal process. Our position is quite clear – we do not allow camping on the Meadows.”

The case is scheduled to be heard at Edinburgh Sheriff Court tomorrow.