Monday, 27 February 2012

NCC Starts Moves to Evict Market Square Occupiers

It was pretty much inevitable that, since the Court of Appeal refused to hear Occupy LSX's appeal against eviction from land near St Paul's Cathedral, NCC would start the process of evicting Occupy Nottingham.

Initially, the council and the occupiers seemed to be quite chummy even 'enjoying' a visit from JoCo himself. But how long that'll last remains to be seen.

It isn't absolutely inevitable that the fate of the Nottm occupiers will mirror that of Occupy LSX. Part of the reasoning for the London case was that the presence of the camp threatened 'freedom to worship' human rights of the St Pauls Cathedral congregation. That aspect won't apply to Nottingham because they're not on religious ground. What's more the Nottingham Camp is considerably smaller so the major aspects of the case i.e. that the camp is an unreasonable use of the highway and breaches planning rules, aren't as strong, although these are likely to be the arguments used here in Nottingham.

A lot of research has been done into who owns the Market Square but, in all honesty, that really isn't an issue, it's always been a matter of rights of way/highways law for the most part. I hadn't really considered planning being an issue but I suppose it isn't surprising that it was included in the London case so it's bound to be copied up here.

So far Occupy Nottm are saying that they plan to stay put although they might want to have a read of the open letter to Occupy LSX that the New Statesman's legal blogger wrote last week. On the other hand, the City Council needs to have a good long think about whether it really wants bailiffs charging in at such a high profile public spot.

It could get messy.

Update - Occupy Nottm have released a statement alleging they were on the verge of an agreement with NCC to clear the camp in stages before being served with an eviction notice. Clearly I have no means of confirming that but then, it's hardly uncharacteristic of NCC to go marching in with the big macho size 12s on.

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