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Protesters are told political speeches will be banned at the Counter Olympics Network demonstration on 28th July

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Anti-Olympic activists in the Counter Olympics Network (CON) have today served papers on Tower Hamlets council demanding that it reverse its ban on anti-Olympic speeches and events following CON’s Demonstration against the Corporate Olympics on Saturday 28th July.

CON was informed on 18 July 2012 that Tower Hamlets refuses to allow speeches or other events at Wennington Green, where its march will end. This is despite CON obtaining permission from the police and from Transport from London for its demonstration.

Tower Hamlets Council denies placing restrictions on freedom of speech, saying that they could not allow the event as they simply did not have sufficient notice of it. But CON first wrote to Tower Hamlets on 11 June setting out details of their protest, and by law protesters only have to give the authorities six days notice of an event.

After receiving notice of the event, Tower Hamlets initially wrote back to CON on 22 June refusing permission for it; but after coming under pressure from the police and from elected officials in the borough changed tack, writing to the protesters on 10 July to say that they would be given permission, before finally banning the event on 18 July.

On 20th July Labour MP Rushanara Ali wrote to Stephen Halsey of Tower Hamlets supporting the group’s right to protest. CON has also had messages of support from both Labour and Respect councillors in Tower Hamlets, and Respect Councillor Harun Miah has tabled a motion for Tower Hamlets council supporting CON’s right to march.

Julian Cheyne stated ‘CON does not understand why Tower Hamlets has decided to alter its decision to allow it to hold a peaceful event in Wennington Green. CON has co-operated with the authorities at every stage and has approval from both the police and TfL for its march and event. It is astonishing and unjust for Tower Hamlets to go back on its word like this.’

Albert Beale of CON commented: ‘There is a very substantial body of opinion which is unhappy with the Games, its connection with a number of very unsuitable corporations, and the refusal to properly consult with or to listen to local opinion over decisions like the placing of missiles on residential buildings in the East End. The authorities have stated they intend to facilitate protest. All protests end with speeches and in this instance CON intends to hold a family friendly closing event which Tower Hamlets should welcome. Instead it chooses to place obstacles in our way. CON will continue to insist on its right to protest and to use a public park for that purpose.’

CON has given Tower Hamlets until 10am on 25th July to allow it to use Wenningham Green after which it will issue proceedings in the High Court for Judicial Review.

From Lives; Running blog

The Counter Olympics Network protest will meet at 12 noon, this Saturday 28th July in Mile End Park (nearest tube Mile End) before proceeding to Wennington Green for a rally. Speakers include Chris Nineham (Stop the Olympic Missiles) and Ruth Tanner (War on Want).

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