OPINION

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What price democracy?

The cost of allowing two demonstrations to take place simultaneously in the city centre on the busiest trading day of the week is eye-watering.
Traders fearing violence and a mass staying-away of customers are fearing the loss in revenue, police are expecting a bill of hundreds of thousands of pounds as they cancel all leave and then there is the cost of all the other emergency service cover and stewarding required. The police, even if they wanted to, are powerless to stop a protest demonstration – forbidden by the law. Yet, if it was a march through the city centre, they could apply for it to be banned. That loophole in the law means that our city centre is going to be seriously disrupted by thousands of demonstrators. However, we need to balance that with the democratic right of people to protest – after all the right to free speech is enshrined in our culture and something we should defend with all our might. After all, as Voltaire said: “I disapprove of what you have to say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” That, of course, is different, to marching and staging protests, but the sense still rings true – witness the protests we are seeing in Turkey at the moment. We would not for one minute want to see an end to the protests in the Middle East – and so we cannot therefore say these demonstrations should not take place here. It is a price we have to pay – albeit reluctantly.

It’s a dream of a plane

The sight of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner in the skies above Doncaster is something we could get used to. The world’s newest airliner is being put through its paces at Robin Hood Airport and could be flying in this country later this summer. It is said to be the world’s most efficient airliner and can carry 291 passengers. This is an exciting development for the airport as Boeing is such a prestige name. Let us hope the plane makes South Yorkshire its permanent home because the options it offers could open up so many more routes to holidaymakers.