Colchester: Two arrested after town centre demonstration

MORE than 500 students brought Colchester’s town centre to a standstill as they held a demonstration against plans to raise university tuition fees.

Dozens of police officers were drafted in to keep control of the “largely peaceful” protest which was marred by a small number of individuals who threw missiles at mounted officers.

Divisional commander, Chief Superintendent Alison Newcomb, confirmed that there were two arrests made during yesterday’s protest.

She said: “This was a difficult operation to police but the protest was largely peaceful and no damage or injuries were caused.

“Despite the prior arrangements made with the organisers to facilitate a peaceful protest a large segment of the group chose to break away and do their own thing which caused disruption and inconvenience to the public.”

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Organisers of the demonstration had informed the police of their plans and road closures had been agreed.

Starting from outside Colchester Sixth Form College in North Road shortly before 11am, the large group of protesters made their way through the High Street to Castle Park, where many dispersed.

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A group of about 250 people then made their way back into the town centre and sat down, blocking the road outside the town hall and disrupting traffic in what the police described as an “illegal assembly”.

Police gradually moved the demonstrators off the High Street, down West Stockwell Street and back to the entrance of the Sixth Form College where they sat in the road until about 3pm.

Protesters waved banners with slogans criticising the Coalition Government and chanted “No ifs, no buts, no education cuts!” as they marched.

Students were protesting against plans to increase tuition fees in England to �9,000 per year and to withdraw public funding for university teaching budgets for many subjects.

Protester Maya Hennelly, 16, who is retaking her GCSEs at Colchester Sixth Form College, said she was marching to protest against plans to scrap the education maintenance allowance (EMA).

“I think it’s terrible what the Coalition Government is planning to do and it will mean that many students won’t be able to afford to go to university,” she said.

“In the election campaign Nick Clegg promised he wouldn’t raise tuition fees and now he’s in power he has broken that promise – it shows you that politicians can’t be trusted.

“This has been a peaceful protest, but I think the police have been a bit more aggressive than they should be, most of the people here are only 16 or 17. I’ve seen a number of people getting shoved.”

Ben Lambert, 18, from Colchester, said: “I’ve decided not to go to university and one of the reasons was because of how much it’s going to cost me.

“There are lots of ways the country should be saving money, but cutting the education budget is not one of them. The government should be targeting tax evaders not students, or cutting the amount it spends of nuclear weapons.”

Max Linden, 18, from Colchester, was one of the many protesters carrying banners, his read ‘Get rid of capitalism and replace it with something nicer’. Other placards read ‘Tuition fees? You’re pulling my Clegg’ and ‘Traitors’ and ‘No to cuts’.

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