OVER 100 animal rights protesters brought Huntingdon to a standstill this afternoon (Saturday) with a march through the town centre to Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) in Alconbury.

OVER 100 animal rights protesters brought Huntingdon to a standstill this afternoon (Saturday) with a march through the town centre to Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) in Alconbury.

Activists from Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) had travelled from Italy, Sweden, Ireland and Holland to join UK campaigners in a protest against the largest animal testing laboratory in Europe.

Initial police estimates suggest only 120 of the expected 300 turned up to what was a largely peaceful protest.

The march began at Riverside car park, where protesters congregated amidst thirty police officers, police evidence gatherers, traffic cops and a police helicopter which circled overhead.

Speeches were given by march organisers, Debbie Vincent and Brendan McNally, and protesters donned fake-blood coats, drums and placards before setting off along Riverside Road towards the High Street at 1.15pm to chants of "Close down HLS."

Protester, Andrea Steinke, from London, told The Hunts Post: "We're here to bring attention to the despicable things that go on at HLS and also remember Barry Horne, the animal rights activist who died in prison 10 years ago after going on hunger strike."

Police closed Huntingdon ring-road to allow protesters to cross onto the High Street, before heading into St Germain Street towards the Town Park.

The road closure was met with mixed reaction by shoppers.

Shopper Lisa Goodwin, of Ashton Gardens, Huntingdon, said: "I wouldn't have known about this march without reading The Hunts Post, and I totally agree with it.

"What goes on at HLS should be exposed, people should know about it and closing the road for a short time is a small price to pay."

But Lesley Green, 54, of Primrose Lane, who was cycling through the town, disagreed.

"It's disgusting that roads have to be closed - it lets them think they've won," she said.

"It's also a disgrace that so many police are brought in - it's a waste of money that could be spent on other things - especially when funds are so tight at the moment."

Shops in the town centre said they hadn't experienced a reduction in footfall due to the march, but market traders said their trade had been affected.

A spokesman for Stringers Florists of Boston, who has a stall on Market Hill, said: "We've noticed it's been really slow today for a Saturday, the march seems to have had an effect."