Lancaster May Day march to go ahead

Lancaster and Morecambe Trades Union Council will once again hold its annual May Day march this weekend.
Lancaster MP speaking at a previous May Day march in Lancaster.Lancaster MP speaking at a previous May Day march in Lancaster.
Lancaster MP speaking at a previous May Day march in Lancaster.

The march will take place on Saturday May 1, and will centre around the theme of Defend the Right to Protest: Defend our Gypsy Roma and Traveller Communities.

Due to earlier Covid restrictions, a virtual event had been planned similar to the one made last year under lockdown, with a film of protests speeches and music to be livestreamed on Facebook and Youtube at the time the traditional march takes place.

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This year’s livestream will still go ahead for those who continue to need to self-isolate.

After restrictions were lifted at the end of March, and in the light of the curbs on the right to protest in the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill, Lancaster and Morecambe Trades Union Council agreed to go ahead with its traditional May Day march.

Nationally, 200 trades unions, campaign groups and other organisations are united in their opposition to the bill. The May Day march coincides with a national day of action in protest at the contents of the bill.

A spokesman said: "Initially the government stated that the bill was a response to movements like Extinction Rebellion and Black Lives Matter.

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"However, the 300-page proposed bill contains a myriad of amendments on existing legislation. In particular, the bill will increase police powers to stop any protests, including single person protests if they are deemed to cause “annoyance”.

"This will potentially see bans on picket lines, Pride, antiracist protests, and protests such as the school students’ strikes against climate change. Further, it removes the right to judicial review, existing legislation that allows government policy to be challenged through the courts.

"The bill, if passed, effectively criminalises the Gypsy Roma and Traveller way of life, giving the police powers to seize homes impose fines and even imprison people for camping by the roadside.

"It is already the case that the provision of existing sites is woefully inadequate. Our Gypsy Roma and Traveller communities already suffer severe inequalities.

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"In education, children are disproportionately excluded from school and members of the communities have repeatedly reported discriminatory practices such as the denial of entry to local pubs, restaurants and leisure facilities.

"This culminated in the well-attended, peaceful Travellers Lives Matter protest, supported by Lancaster and Morecambe Trades Union Council last September. On Saturday we will march in solidarity with our GRT communities and hear an invited speaker.

"The Lancaster and Morecambe May Day march is always inclusive of everyone. It is a peaceful celebration of workers struggles locally and internationally. It is a celebration of unity and solidarity.

"This year it is as important as ever to demonstrate our democratic right to protest without which many of our rights and freedoms would not have been won."

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This march and rally is supported by Lancaster and Morecambe NEU, Lancaster University, UCU, RMT, UNITE, Extinction Rebellion, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Lancaster Labour Party, Lancaster Green Party, Stand Up to Racism, People Before Profit, East Meets West and members of the Gypsy and Traveller Communities in Lancaster and Morecambe.

Speakers include Catherine Varey Lupton from the Traveller Community, Cat Smith MP, Ian Mooney, NHS nurse, Gina Dowding, Green Party and more.

The march will begin with people assembling in Dalton Square from 11.30am, setting off at noon. A rally will follow in Dalton Square from 1pm.

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