Hundreds join in May Day march around Lancaster city centre
Lovely weather and a strong motivation to protest at the Government’s new policing bill brought out campaigners in good numbers and voice for the annual Lancaster May Day Rally on Saturday.
Last year, organiser Lancaster & Morecambe Trades Union Council was forced to go online due to Covid-19 restrictions and, while this year there was still a prepared online rally with speeches and music, everyone was keen to get outside as well and onto the streets with the usual mix of music, banners, slogan, whistles and speakers.
Opposition to the new Conservative Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill legislation galvanised 300 to join in.
The wide-ranging bill includes new powers that allow police to restrict protests, as well as introduce new measures which critics condemn as potentially criminalising circumstances for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, having their homes seized and facing heavy fines.
Trade unionists were out in good numbers to 'Kill the Bill', along with contingents representing the Traveller community, Extinction Rebellion, Palestine Solidarity, East Meets West, Global Link, Stand Up to Racism, Pensioners Campaign Group, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, rent and housing campaigners Acorn and the political parties of Labour, Greens and Socialist Workers.
Travellers led the march with their pony and traps around several city streets and joined the stewarding before the rally at Dalton Square with speeches from the town hall steps. Among those with strong messages about the new policing bill was Catherine Varey Lupton for the Traveller community.
Other speakers included Lancaster's Labour MP Cat Smith, Green county councillor Gina Dowding, city council leader Coun Erica Lewis, Sam Ud-din of teaching union NEU, Mhairi Locket for Acorn, nurse and Unison member Iain Mooney, Tina Rothery and Bex Fitton from the anti-fracking campaigners, and Julia Hearn of the UCU talking about the cause of the Palestinians.
Trades Council president Eugene Doherty said: "It was a great day and it was so important to have members of the Traveller community on the march and rally.
"May Day is a celebration of working people and all we do for society, but it is also a protest against injustice. Everyone present was united in our determination to stop the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill."