It’s a story that started on October 15th 2011, but 190 days later, Occupy Nottingham is over, and the camping site that had become part of the landscape of the Old Market Square has disappeared.
The encampment was set up in response to perceived failings of capitalism, mainly with regards to the inequality caused by the financial system. A three-day trial, starting on 30th April, had been ordered by a judge in order to hear the issues at hand. However, the protesters said that they were unable to fund the £20,000-£30,000 legal fees necessary to fight Nottingham City Council, who claimed that the tents in the corner of the square were blocking a public highway and presented safety and hygiene issues.
The Nottingham branch of the movement was one of the longest surviving camps in Europe, outlasting the site at St. Paul’s by almost a month. On Sunday 22nd April, members of the group along with council employees, dismantled the site and transferred the remnants into dustbin-lorries.
While it may not have been an easy decision for the camp to make, the end took place calmly. Despite the fact that some of the members feel badly treated, the campers seem to be viewing the end of Occupy Nottingham as a chance to reconsider how to carry on spreading their message, and see the past six months as a success.
“I’m very proud of what we have achieved in getting our message across to the people of Nottingham,” said Carl Freeman, one of the Occupy campers. Another member, Ashley Jones, 23, let it be known that while they may have taken apart the camp, they have not put a stop to the protest, “We are leaving the site, but we hope to do other things in the future, and maybe we will be camping out again at some point.” Ideas of making the protest more mobile, and taking their message into communities, have been suggested.
The end of Occupy Nottingham has been met with satisfaction by members of the council, with Alex Norris, a portfolio holder for area working, cleansing and community safety, commenting, “Throughout we’ve been clear that although we respect their right to protest and the causes on which they have made a stand, the city centre should not be used for encampments and they could not remain there indefinitely.”