Councillors witness violent scenes during cuts protest

Reporter:

Lois Hough

A COUNCILLOR has told of his “frightening” ordeal after a protest in London descended into violent chaos.

Connah’s Quay Labour councillors Bernie Attridge and Aaron Shotton were among 250,000 demonstrators marching through the capital objecting to public spending cuts on Saturday.

But the peaceful protest spiralled out of control when masked anarchists laid siege to The Ritz hotel, attacking it with paint and smoke-bombs.

A Porsche showroom was also smashed up and department store Fortnum and Mason, whose owners are at the centre of a £40 million tax avoidance row, was occupied by about 1,000 activists. Cllr Attridge has described the events as “horrible” to watch.

He told the Leader: “I went along to the protest to represent my constituents and was marching with trade unionists from Unison and Unite.

“It was a fantastic march with a jovial atmosphere and even elderly people and children were joining in. I have never seen so many people in my life.

“I was literally outside The Ritz when this group of people wearing black masks came out of nowhere.

“They started putting windows through and then there was three loud bangs.

“At first I thought they were bombs. Everyone was screaming and running for their lives.”

More than 200 people were arrested and at least 31 police officers hurt, with 11 of them requiring hospital treatment.

Between 200 and 300 people were still in Trafalgar Square late into the night, with some throwing missiles and attempting to damage the Olympic clock within the
square.

The Metropolitan Police is now reviewing evidence collected from CCTV cameras.
Cllr Attridge added: “I saw cashpoints which had been destroyed and a Starbucks café which had had its windows smashed.

“It was just a shame that a small majority had to spoil it.”

Cllr Shotton is leader of the opposition Labour group on Flintshire County Council and Cllr Attridge is his deputy.

See full story in the Leader

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