Newham Council to vote on whether to help arms fair protestors

Protestors and police at the ExCel Centre ahead of the arms fair in 2017. Pic: Ken Mears

Protestors and police at the ExCel Centre ahead of the arms fair in 2017. Pic: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Plans to help campaigners protesting the world’s largest arms fair will be voted on by Newham Council next week.

Councillor Daniel Blaney has put forward a motion to allow council owned buildings and land to be used for protests against the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) event at the ExCeL in Docklands.

The exhibition, from September 10 to 13, allows weapons buyers and sellers to network and make deals.

The event is expected to welcome 35,000 people over the three days.

Cllr Blaney's motion reads: "The London Borough of Newham is dismayed at the hosting of the world's largest arms fair [and] rejects the economic arguments cynically deployed in defence of this trade, and resolves to work for a local and wider economy that promotes peace and sustainability."

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It adds that the council should allow "reasonable use of council owned buildings to those organising peaceful and lawful opposition to DSEI 2019", including the use of Keir Hardie Park for a "family-orientated festival for peace and opposition" on August 31.

In February Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz, along with other councillors and MP Lyn Brown, supported protestors outside the ExCeL in their opposition against the biannual fair.

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The motion will be voted on at full council on Tuesday.

A DSEI spokesman said: "DSEI respects the right to lawful protest.

"The event takes place entirely within the ExCeL campus and the organisers are responsible for the security of the event.

"The policing of events held by third parties in public or other areas outside the exhibition site is the responsibility of the Metropolitan Police."

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