Mark Thomas leads protest against crackdown on Exeter rough sleepers

Tony Gosling tony at
Sat Feb 13 19:43:01 GMT 2016

Comedian Mark Thomas leads big protest against 
plans for a crackdown on rough sleepers in Exeter
Express and Echo  |  Posted: February 11, 2016
Comedian and activist Mark Thomas led a 
demonstration outside the Civic Centre in Exeter 
last night against plans for a crackdown 
rough sleepers in the city centre.
The comedian had been performing his political 
comedy show Trespass at the city council-run Corn 
Exchange earlier in the evening.
During the show he spoke out against proposals 
for a Public Space Protection Order – which gives 
the police greater powers to move on homeless 
people – which the council wants to introduce in the city.
More than 12,000 people have so far signed an online petition against the move.



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At the end of the show at around 10.30pm, he left 
the theatre and told the audience he planned to 
demonstration against plans for the PSPO outside the Civic centre.
Scores of people from the audience followed him 
to the Civic Centre. They were handed pitchforks, 
torches and banners to aid the protest.
Passers-by and several homeless people also joined the protest.
Police were called to monitor the situation. The 
peaceful demonstration lasted around an hour and there were no arrests.
Mr Thomas was able to reassure officers that the 
pitchforks were capped for safety purposes.
One protestor, Kirsty Kennedy, said: “He talked a 
lot about the PSPO and knew all about the plans 
to introduce it in Exeter. When he suggested a 
protest at the end of the show lots of people 
followed him out of the theatre and joined him at the Civic Centre.
“The police were a bit concerned to see people 
with pitchforks - but it was all good natured, 
and good fun, with a serious point to be made.
“It was a great way to make a point and it was 
amazing to see so many people taking part.”
The PSPO would impose restrictions on the city 
centre that can leave those in violation of the 
order subject to an on-the-spot fine of £100. 
Failure to pay this fine will result in court 
proceedings that may result in a fine of up to £1000 and a criminal record. 

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