London

Call for London protest organisers to 'pay for damage'

Organisers of protests in the West End should "pay for damage and clean up", a group of 600 retailers has said.

New West End Company asked Mayor Boris Johnson to prevent marches from entering the area and to ask organisers to "provide a bond or insurance".

Mr Johnson said although Saturday's violence was separate from the anti-cuts march, it would be "wonderful" if organisers contributed to the clean-up.

The TUC which organised the march called the suggestion "ridiculous".

'Violence and vandalism'

The TUC said 250,000 to 500,000 people - including families - attended Saturday's march from Embankment to Hyde Park, which passed off without incident.

But trouble erupted after a separate group, wearing scarves to mask their faces, gathered and attacked stores at Oxford Street before heading to Piccadilly and then Trafalgar Square.

In a letter Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas, the chairperson of New West End Company, asked the mayor to prevent the retail area from being "regularly disrupted by a relatively small minority of individuals bent on random destruction and unrest".

Image caption Protesters attacked shops and burnt a Trojan horse in Oxford Circus

Calling the burning of a Trojan horse in Oxford Circus as "unacceptable", she warned that these demonstrations will harm the shopping district's reputation.

In December, a group demonstrating against the rising of college tuition fees gathered in the West End and targeted several shops in the area.

A car carrying Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall was also attacked.

'Legitimate march'

Dame Judith called on the mayor to route violent marches "away from retail areas" and to ask organisers to "provide a bond or other insurance to pay for damage and clean up costs".

Praising police officers for "coping with the aggression", Mr Johnson said: "I think it's very disappointing that a legitimate march that had the support of hundreds of thousands of people was really spoilt by the actions of a tiny minority."

He added: "Obviously there has been damage to property and it would be a wonderful thing, frankly, if the organisers of the march would contribute to the costs of clearing it up."

TUC's head of campaigns Nigel Stanley said: "The Metropolitan Police have made absolutely clear that the violence and vandalism on Saturday had nothing to do with the TUC or our supporters.

"It is disappointing that the mayor can't tell the difference between the near half-million peaceful TUC demonstrators and the tiny number of trouble makers for whom we have no responsibility."

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