Statement from OccupyLSX
We are disappointed to learn that that the management of St Paul’s have decided to close the Cathedral this afternoon, in their open letter regarding our peaceful occupation that aims to highlight and challenge the social and economic injustice in the UK and beyond.
Since the beginning of the occupation six days ago, OccupyLSX have tried hard to accommodate the Cathedral’s concerns in any way we can. Over the past 48 hours, we have completely re-organised the camp in response to feedback from the Fire Brigade and we have also accepted the presence of two large barriers to preserve access to the side door of the Cathedral.
Both of these measures were accepted by the General Assembly in order that the Cathedral’s normal operations should not be unduly impacted by our presence. This afternoon we have been told, in a telephone call, by the fire brigade, that they have not issued any new requirements above and beyond those already communicated directly to the camp. Therefore, there are no outstanding fire safety issues.
What outstanding issues there are appear to be concerned with, firstly, health and safety and, secondly, the Cathedral’s commercial concerns. We seek clarification from the Cathedral as to the precise nature of those health and safety concerns, so that we might address them directly. In the short space of time that we have been here, we have successfully liaised with the City authorities and outside bodies to coordinate recycling and sanitation.
As to the Cathedral’s commercial concerns, access to the restaurant has never been blocked by the encampment. The closure of the restaurant, by the Cathedral, has mystified us, especially as it came at the same time as we encouraged our people to use and support the restaurant. We would much prefer to eat there than in some of the nearby chains.
We believe the Cathedral is also concerned about their visitor numbers. We have endeavoured to ensure that our schedule does not conflict with the Cathedral’s, so that their normal operations are not impaired. Clearly, we have become another tourist attraction on the Cathedral’s doorstep – but, since we are not a commercial concern, we are struggling to understand how we have had any financial impact on the Cathedral’s revenues.
We also understand that some individuals were in the process of arranging for a contribution to be made to St Paul’s in recognition of their hospitality. It is a shame the Cathedral authorities have decided to take this action before those preparations came to fruition, as we expected them to in the next 12 hours.
Over the course of this week, we have done a huge amount to draw attention to the crisis of economic and political legitimacy experienced in the UK and mirrored in protests staged across the world. That awareness-raising exercise – and our attempts to provide a truly participatory and accountable forum in which to investigate ways forward – will continue.
Update – 4pm
We have been advised by Health and Safety Manager Rachel Sambal that the City of London’s Health and Safety Team have had no contact with St Paul’s Cathedral regarding health and safety issues at the site.