Updated again Friday evening
Ed Thornton reports in the Church Times this morning: Crisis brings crowd to steps of St Paul’s
Update There has been a major update of this story, now headlined Protest means we must shut, says Dean of St Paul’s.
THE Dean and Chapter of St Paul’s Cathedral appealed this week for cathedral life to “be allowed to operate as normally as possible”, after hundreds of activists, protesting against corporate greed and economic inequality, set up camp in St Paul’s Churchyard…
The Church Times also has editorial comment on the subject: Leader: Cold comfort for protesters.
Friday afternoon update
Two further statements from the Dean of St Paul’s:
Update Video of this statement here.
…Last night, I met with members of the Chapter to discuss some of these key issues. As the week has gone on, and in a statement we issued earlier this week, we intimated how difficult the situation was becoming.
As a result of that meeting, and reports received today from our independent Health, Safety and Fire officers, I have written an open letter to the protestors this afternoon advising them that we have no lawful alternative but to close St Paul’s Cathedral until further notice. I have here copies of the letter clearly outlining the reasons we have had to take this dramatic course of action which I will ask my colleagues to distribute.
The Health, Safety and Fire officers have pointed out that access to and from the Cathedral is seriously limited. With so many stoves and fires and lots of different types of fuel around, there is a clear fire hazard. Then there is the public health aspect which speaks for itself. The dangers relate not just to Cathedral staff and visitors but are a potential hazard to those encamped themselves.
The decision to close St Paul’s Cathedral is unprecedented in modern times and I have asked the Registrar to implement emergency procedures whereby the building remains closed but fit for purpose until such a time that we can open safely. Our 200 staff and 100 volunteers are also being informed of this decision this afternoon.
I want to say two simple things at this point.
1)We have done this with a very heavy heart, but it is simply not possible to fulfil our day to day obligations to worshippers, visitors and pilgrims in current circumstances.
2)That all of the Chapter are at one on this and recognise the complexities of the issues facing us at this time…
…With a heavy heart I have to tell you that St Paul’s Cathedral has to be closed today until further notice, because of the legal requirements placed upon us by fire, health and safety issues. I know you will appreciate that in taking on the burden of responsibility for the care and well being of people entering our building, we must also be able to ensure everyone’s safety and, according to those who are expert in this regard, we cannot do so at the moment. I wanted to inform you of this necessary decision before I announced it to the Press.
I am therefore appealing to you directly to recognise that a great deal had been achieved by your presence here outside St Paul’s but that, in order that we might re-open the Cathedral as speedily as possible, we ask you to withdraw peacefully. We are concerned about public safety in terms of evacuation and fire hazards and the consequent knock-on effects which this has with regards to visitors…
Guardian Peter Walker and Riazat Butt