Birmingham & Black Country

Students' fees protest at Lib Dem John Hemming's office

The office of a Liberal Democrat MP was taken over by several protesters urging him to vote against a rise in tuition fees later this week.

John Hemming, MP for Yardley in Birmingham, said the group prevented his team from carrying out essential constituency work.

Birmingham University student Adam O'Connell told Mr Hemming live on BBC WM that his office remained open.

Liberal Democrat MPs signed a pre-election pledge to vote against a rise.

But policy has changed since the formation of a coalition with the Conservatives.

'Completely wrong'

MPs are due to vote on Thursday on the coalition plan to raise tuition fees to as much as £9,000.

Mr Hemming told the radio station earlier on Monday that he was on his way to London but the police were at his office.

Protester Mr O'Connell said their protest started with about three people in the office and about five others outside with a banner.

They were letting the public in and out of the office but the police eventually closed the office, leaving some protesters inside, before they all left at about 1500 GMT, he added.

"Basically, we just wanted to give John a little visit to make sure he votes against the rise in tuition fees this Thursday which he has promised to do," he said.

Mr Hemming said he had had an appointment with some students and had met up with them.

"I talked to them and I'd be happy to meet them at any stage... but to shut down my office? It's completely the wrong way to do it," he said.

He said later that he was likely to vote for the increase.

"At the moment I'm very likely to vote for the increase, simply because we cannot reward the bad behaviour from today," he added.

"The problem you've got is this: If you reward this form of behaviour, if it has any effect which is a positive effect, you're encouraging the behaviour in the future."

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