Protesters free to march again

ANIMAL rights protesters have won permission to stage large protests in Huntingdon again and are planning a march through the town involving 800 people. Shac – the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty campaign – has called a march through the town for Saturday,

ANIMAL rights protesters have won permission to stage large protests in Huntingdon again and are planning a march through the town involving 800 people.

Shac - the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty campaign - has called a march through the town for Saturday, November 10.

The group has managed to get a variation on an injunction preventing it from mass demonstrations in the town, or protesting outside Huntingdon Life Sciences.

For the past four years, an exclusion zone has been imposed on the group banning members from going within a specified area round the Huntingdon Life Sciences site.

The campaigners have still been allowed to protest in Huntingdon town centre but have been restricted to no more than 30 people and only one megaphone.

However, the injunction, obtained in 2003, was varied in March this year so that, once every three months, the group can demonstrate with unrestricted numbers of people and as many loud hailers as it likes.

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Protesters can also march up to the laboratories.

A spokesman for Shac said: "This will be a peaceful march through the town. We will gather for speeches and then we will go out to the labs."

She added: "We have always been allowed to protest once in seven days but it is a waste of time. People in Huntingdon know about Huntingdon Life Sciences and what it does - our strategy is to target the lab's customers to make sure they know and, once they do, they stop having anything to do with them.

"But it is still good to show that we are a force. We are as strong as ever and we want to get the place closed down."

There is also concern that the protests will hit Huntingdon's economy, disrupting

Saturday shopping.

Katy Sismore, Huntingdon's town centre manager, told The Hunts Post: "I have spoken to Shac. I was contacted by them and they have shown an amount of care. The person who called me wanted to know what other events were being held on that day.

"This is a busy Saturday in the run-up to Christmas and, as a former retailer, it isn't exactly what you want because it could put people off coming into the town. But this has to be balanced with the protesters' right to protest and the principle of free speech."

She added: "The variation on the injunction means that, four times a year, they can march on four Saturdays or Sundays or bank holidays. The only way we can change that is to get the injunction reversed."

Mrs Sismore said a meeting was scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday) between the town centre partnership, the town and district councils, the police and the fire service to discuss the route and security arrangements for the day.

No one from HLS was available for comment.

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