A huge, safe, united and well-organised March for the Alternative
Speaking at a press briefing jointly held by the TUC, Metropolitan Police and Liberty TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:
'Thanks very much for attending this joint press briefing held by the TUC, Liberty and the Metropolitan Police - and to the Met for hosting it.
'This Saturday I'm looking forward to the largest event the TUC has organised for decades. There's no way we can anticipate the exact numbers, but we do know that there will be a huge turn-out of people who want to register their opposition to the government's deep, rapid and unfair spending cuts.
'We know of more than 600 coaches and at least nine special trains. Thousands will come by public transport, and one person is walking from Cardiff.
'There are three different ways for those with disabilities or difficulties walking to join the event.
'We are determined that this will be a safe, well-stewarded and family friendly event, that will allow everyone coming to send a united message to government ministers.
'The TUC has been working on the detailed planning of this event since before Christmas. We have not just been working closely with the Metropolitan Police, but with the Royal Parks, Westminster Council staff, Transport for London and the emergency services. I thank them all for their co-operation and hard work on what will be a major event.
'They are recognising their duty to facilitate our right to protest. In turn we recognise our responsibility to run a well-organised and disciplined event.
'The key to all of this is detailed planning, good communication and effective stewarding.
'And most importantly we will have a well-trained and effective team of stewards. Three hundred senior stewards have gone through a day-long stewarding course. Many of these will be linked by radio to our control centre. Hundreds more route stewards have gone through a shorter briefing session or been briefed online, and know the details of our plans for the day. We will use Twitter and text to keep stewards and marchers up to date on the day.
'The police have a duty to ensure public safety and deal with any criminal activity, but it is up to the TUC to organise and steward our march. We have clear understandings about our different roles and police representatives have taken part in our training sessions to discuss these.
'With an agreed route, well trained stewards, the extra reassurance provided by Liberty observers, a good working relationship with the police and the traditions and discipline of the trade union movement, I have no hesitation in inviting not just our members but everyone who agrees with our cause to bring their families on Saturday.
'This is also an opportunity for me to say how marchers can contribute to making the day a success. We have three top tips for marchers:
- Stagger your arrivals. The march assembles from 11am, but will still be leaving the Victoria Embankment until well after 2pm.
- Avoid the feeder marches. There are no official feeder marches, and while we recognise their good intentions, the unofficial ones make the organisation of the day more difficult. They interfere with disabled access and given the numbers expected we can't absorb big groups turning up together at the assembly area.
- Visit the March for the Alternative website for travel advice and logistical details.
'The thousands of trade union members coming on Saturday from across the country, along with the representatives of service users, and countless other voluntary and community groups who oppose the cuts, know that the objective of this demonstration is to send a strong message to the government through our unity and a huge turn-out. I want nothing to distract from that.
'I'm confident that our planning and well-trained steward team means that this is exactly what will happen.'
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- The TUC March for the Alternative is taking place in central London on Saturday 26 March. The march will form up from 11am on the Victoria Embankment between Waterloo and Blackfriars bridges and proceed through central London until reaching Hyde Park, where the rally will start from around 1.30pm.
- Further info about the logistics of the march and reasons why people are marching for an alternative to the cuts is available at www.marchforthealternative.org.uk
- Journalists wanting to arrange interviews with TUC leaders before the march or looking for media access to the march and rally should speak to the TUC press office.