Labour figures warn Bristol ‘Kill the Bill’ demo boosts case for anti-protest law

Elliot Chappell
©1000 Words/
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Peaceful demonstration against anti-protest legislation turned violent last night in Bristol. Police vans were set alight, a police station was attacked and officers injured after what started as a sitdown protest escalated as riot police, dogs and horses were deployed. Local Labour mayor Marvin Rees condemned the violence as “unacceptable” and warned that the action, instead of boosting efforts to ‘kill the bill’, will “be used as evidence and promote the need for the bill”. Shadow Housing Secretary Thangam Debbonaire and Bristol West MP similarly argued the scenes would “distress most people, including anyone who believes in defending the right to peaceful democratic protest”. Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds called the violence “completely unacceptable and inexcusable” and said those responsible should “face the consequences of their actions”.

Anneliese Dodds will today unveil a five-point plan for high streets to “put communities first”. In a speech in Birmingham, she will promise that a vote for Labour in the May elections will mean a “bright future for Britain’s high streets”. Her plan includes scrapping new Tory planning rules allowing high streets to be turned into low-quality housing without permission; empowering councils with an ’empty shops order’ to fill vacant venues with new businesses; challenging the government to “level the tax playing field” between high street and online companies; establishing a ‘high streets fightback fund’ to help businesses hit by the pandemic; and “reversing Rishi Sunak’s economically illiterate hammer blows to people’s pockets”. The location for the speech, Tory Andy Street’s West Midlands mayoral seat, is a key target for Labour in May.

MPs will today vote on amendments to the fire safety bill. Labour has written to 77 Tory MPs, representing around 100,000 people living in flats with flammable cladding and safety defects, asking them to back an amendment preventing costs for fixing dangerous cladding being passed on to leaseholders. Highlighting that Conservative ministers have promised at least 17 times in parliament that leaseholders would not be forced to pay to fix the problems, Labour is calling on MPs to enshrine that promise in law. More than 30 Tories had signed an amendment to protect leaseholders from costs last month but, as Labour has highlighted, none then voted to do so. Stay tuned with LabourList as we follow what happens.

Also on LabourList today, Labour councillor Polly Billington has set out for readers the difference that elected woman can make. Writing in the wake of the death of Sarah Everard, the public outcry and backlash over police mishandling of the vigil in south London, she argued that “when we speak up on behalf of our communities others with decision-making powers can, should and must listen”. “Listen to us, to our communities and help us make the changes we need,” she told them. “Pay attention. This isn’t a moment. It’s a movement.” Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.

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