SHEFFIELD Cathedral is to begin legal action today to evict anti-capitalist protesters who have defied requests to leave its churchyard.
The Dean of Sheffield Very Reverend Peter Bradley said it had ‘no choice’ but to pursue a court order as the Occupy Sheffield camp remained - despite today being the deadline of a final appeal to leave peacefully within a week.
Protesters have defied requests to go after setting up on November 5, and cathedral bosses say they need to clear the site for a £3.5 million redevelopment project.
Mr Bradley said: “We have been given no choice. We must proceed to legal action to clear the site in order to maintain the timetable for our development plans.
“We have had regular meetings with Occupy Sheffield since they set up. It has always been, and still is, our intention to bring this difficult situation to a peaceful and mutually acceptable conclusion.
“It is with great regret we have not yet reached a compromise.”
Continuing safety concerns and the camp’s effect on cathedral work were also factors, said Mr Bradley.
He added: “We are liable for all activity on the land and it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep it safe, well managed and open for everyone to enjoy.
“The camp has become a huge drain on our limited resources. We are currently unable to deliver the whole of our projected activities, and our important day-to-day ministry is suffering.”
The cathedral said it would continue talking to protesters and support a move to an appropriate site.
Occupy Sheffield has ‘downsized’ its cathedral camp after taking over the city’s old Salvation Army Citadel. Members are holding a ‘strategy week’ with discussions on its future.
Spokeswoman Cassie said: “There’s a huge amount of people who want us to stay because of why we’re here.”
Eviction was ‘one of the outcomes of an occupation’.
n Should they stay or should they go?
Council worker Kim Hall, 55, of Hillsborough, said: “They should stay as long as they can, I agree with them. It is a peaceful protest not disturbing anybody.”
Cost draughtsman Glenn Lucas, 35, of Wincobank, said: “They should go because I think it looks unsightly, that’s the main reason.”
Hillsborough resident Alan Brears, 75, said: “They should go, it looks like a camp of gypsies and has ruined the cathedral’s Christmas.”
Heeley student Shona Fraser, 18, said: “They should definitely stay and keep talking to people because I think things like the economy need to be highlighted.”