The Price Of Protest

By Hazel Last edited 199 months ago
The Price Of Protest

In a week of transport woe, we've all felt a bit shortchanged. The exact scale of shortchanging due to the Tube strike has been explored already and yet more controversial financial consequences of protesting have been unveiled. It apparently cost £7million to police the Heathrow climate change protest in August and it was the Metropolitan police who paid up.

The protest required 11 days of security in about 16,000 shifts which is quite a lot of staffing and a lot of hours on the ground. While the need for extreme security measures were minimal, the last day of protest was confrontational with hundreds of protesters blocking the car park and basically causing a scene.

The protest was promoted and praised by many as peaceful, meaningful and effective - a bit more effective and encouraging for the cause than the highly divisive tube strike earlier this week. Even London Assembly Conservative spokesman for crime and policing Richard Barnes has not abandoned the protest against the expansion of Heathrow airport despite his dismay at the cost of keeping up the police presence:

"Whilst climate change is a pressing issue, and I also oppose the expansion of Heathrow any further, such protests must be better co-ordinated by groups so not to burden police forces with costs they can ill afford to bear."

The Heathrow protesters made their point in a peaceful manner with minimal disruption considering the scale of dissent they could have caused, and the consequences are a slightly miffed reprimand from the top about how much it cost to express concern about the airport's expansion plans that the very same guys at the top also have themselves. This all feels like non-news after the hair-tearing and unreasonableness of the RMT strike - whatever side of the fence you stand on about that, the Heathrow climate change protesters may have cost Londoners a fair amount in police bills but didn't lose any important support because of that. The RMT strikers didn't make any new friends choosing to make their point the way they did - there's a lesson here, let's hope it is learned.

Last Updated 07 September 2007