Doors locked at stores as protest scuffles break out

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A SMALL group of trouble-makers targeted big-name stores in the city centre, before police flooded the area.

Around 30 activists broke from the main protest march and tried to occupy Topshop and Boots on Fargate, before switching their attention to the NatWest bank on High Street.

A smaller group of around a dozen - wearing hoods and masks - marched back to Fargate, chanting slogans against Vodafone, and were about to enter the mobile phone store when 40 police officers formed a ring around them.

Several scuffles followed, as protesters tried to break out of the circle.

Police then led the individuals from Fargate. No arrests were made.

The targeted stores were each on a map entitled ‘Rage Against The Lib Dems and Tax Evaders’, distributed on the internet.

The document gave the location of key venues where delegates would gather and described chain stores as ‘targets’ of anger because of alleged tax evasion.

The map also slammed banks which took ‘bailout’ money from taxpayers and paid bonuses to executives.

The document encouraged protesters to ‘go sightseeing around these beauty spots, or even help the treasury find the money they’ve lost from tax evasion’.

Topshop and NatWest closed after the incidents.

A spokeswoman for RBS - owner of NatWest - said police had acted swiftly to remove the youths and there had been little damage.

She added: “We fully respect the right for people to protest. But our staff and customers are always our priority throughout.”

Some stores on Fargate kept their doors locked, with staff manning the entrances and opening doors for customers. Many companies employed security guards for the day.

Police are investigating after a delegate was assaulted by two protesters as she tried to cross Sheffield on her mobility scooter.

They yelled at Susan Carson, aged 72, when they spotted her conference pass. She has a degenerative back condition and was taken to the Northern General but was later allowed to continue with the conference.

n A man, 24, was arrested for letting off a flare during the rally. He was given an £80 fixed penalty.