Occupy Sheffield protesters call off Cathedral camp

End of protest: Occupy Sheffield at the Cathedral.

End of protest: Occupy Sheffield at the Cathedral.

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OCCUPY Sheffield protesters say their demonstration will end tomorrow - as court documents show the camp could have potentially cost Sheffield Cathedral an estimated £100,000.

The camp, which set up on the cathedral forecourt in November, yesterday said on Twitter it was ‘closing down’ this Saturday after a meeting.

A trial to decide whether protesters could be evicted has been set to start on February 21.

In a court statement seen by The Star, the Dean of Sheffield Rev Peter Bradley said lost income from cancelled events and activities affected by the protest totalled an estimated £65,000 - before anticipated legal costs would potentially have increased that to around £100,000. Staff resources used were not included.

The dean’s statement also detailed how protesters had ‘interrupted’ worships, once by a woman who shouted ‘foul abuse’ in ‘blasphemous rants’ to a horrified congregation on Sunday, December 4.

Occupy protesters are said to be staging their demonstration in opposition to the country’s current economic system, corporate greed, funding cuts and climate change.

A member of the camp, who gave his name only as Moose, told The Star: “It is unfortunate the cathedral and Occupy are having a bit of an argument and what we’re trying to do is keep on good terms with the cathedral.”

He described the campers’ planned move from the cathedral forecourt as a ‘tactical withdrawal’ - but said the Occupy movement in Sheffield would continue to highlight the issues it stood for.

An official camp statement is expected today.

Sheffield Cathedral has urged the protesters to leave to make way for a development project.

The cathedral said it had been liaising with Occupy and was ‘hopeful’ the group would go this weekend.

A spokesman added: “We now need to give them time to sort their exit among themselves. They have until 4pm on Monday.

“In our submissions to the court we have been obliged to recount in detail some distressing incidents.

“However we do not want past incidents to undermine the positive nature of current discussions or to affect what we are all working towards - a peaceful and respectful conclusion to the protest.

“We have sympathies with many of the issues the Occupy movement raises and will continue to engage in active discussions.”

Timeline

November 5 - Occupy Sheffield set up in the cathedral courtyard

November 8 - The camp is warned to be ‘peaceful’ although the dean says the cathedral respects the right to protest

December 5 - Very Rev Peter Bradley called on Occupy Sheffield to leave

December 8 - Protesters insist they have no immediate plans to leave. A 600-strong petition in support of the camp is presented to Sheffield Council

December 10 - Very Rev Peter Bradley writes to city banks for fear of losing support for church projects

December 24 - Protesters say they could stay at their camp until next Christmas

December 29 - Occupy Sheffield ‘take possession’ of the old Salvation Army Citadel in Sheffield

January 5 - Cathedral chiefs issue a final appeal for Occupy to leave peacefully within a week

January 13 - The cathedral begins legal action

January 19 - Protesters squatting in the Citadel reach agreement with the landlords to leave on February 21

January 26 - A court hearing decides a two day trial will take place to rule on the cathedral’s possession order

February 9 – The cathedral says it is ‘hopeful’ protesters will leave and Occupy Sheffield says it is ‘closing down’ camp this weekend

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