On Saturday 3 April, an alliance of individuals representing a diverse range of interests came together in Newbury to protest against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021 which represents a serious threat to the right to protest. The provisions threaten to neuter protests in ways that would render them ineffective – effectively taking away one of the only ways in which people can express their dissatisfaction in a democratic society.
Prior to Saturday’s protest, members of the Alliance discussed their intended plans for a protest with the police and informed representatives of Newbury Town Council. The Alliance managed a small, and Covid safe protest to ensure the greater community’s safety.
The protest had two main purposes: to make demands on our local MP, Laura Farris, that she remove her support for this Bill and to ensure that more members of the community are made aware of the damaging and dangerous content of the Bill which will substantially undermine an individual’s right to protest, peacefully. This means protest in all its forms: whether on a picket line, advocating for victims of domestic violence, defence of the NHS & its staff, promotion of rights and freedoms (for example Pride events), and/or against racial inequality, against wars, against any other kinds of inequality or injustice, and not least the Climate Emergency.
This Bill will stifle all rights for individuals to exercise their freedom of speech, on any topic, as it will substantially undermine the right to protest.
We implore more members of the public to scrutinise this Bill to ensure they are fully informed of how their rights will be impacted. This IS a dangerous Bill, and as many members of Parliament, including Conservative MPs have argued, our very freedoms depend on this Bill being rejected or substantial amendments made to remove these highly restrictive provisions.
Local members of several unions were in attendance to highlight that workers long held right to protest, against poor working conditions, pay and other inequalities in the workplace, are under threat by this Bill.
Young people, students, and local environmental groups were in attendance as their cries for faster, stronger Climate Emergency action continue to fall on deaf ears and protest has become one of their only forms of raising their voices and awareness to this urgent cause. Individuals who have campaigned to promote and improve equal rights and against discrimination took part.
Parents and grandparents took part simply to defend their children, grandchildren and future generations of their family’s “right to protest” in the future, just as their parents and grandparents did on issues such as: the right to vote, and better workers rights.
We will continue to stand against this Bill.
Moz Bulbeck Reynolds, Sinead Hall, Carolyne Culver, Lois Ryan & Claire Willsher
On behalf of the Newbury Alliance Against the PCSC Bill