Extinction Rebellion protesters wreak havoc at Cambridge City Council budget meeting
PUBLISHED: 12:18 14 February 2020 | UPDATED: 13:23 14 February 2020
Extinction Rebellion protesters halted a Cambridge City Council budget-setting meeting before staging an all-night "occupation" in the public chamber.
Chaotic scenes unfolded with members of Extinction Rebellion Cambridge and their youth arm shouting, singing, dancing and with one scaling over the side of a public balcony above the council chamber.
Police were called but communicating with the protesters proved difficult when they declared they had no designated leader, and the person suspended from the balcony was wearing headphones and unable to hear - or was at least ignoring - the commotion.
Protester Tilly Porter, 20, confronted the council by outlining several of the group's demands around taking quicker and more impactful action to address the "climate emergency", despite orders from mayor of the meeting, Cllr Gerri Bird.
Speaking from the chamber after the council decided to end efforts to restart its budget meeting, Ms Porter said: "This isn't the end; this is the beginning until they agree to do something real to address the climate emergency."
The main point behind Thursday's stunt (February 13) was to call on Cambridge City Council to hold a citizens' assembly to inform and make policy to address climate change in a bid to gain decision-making powers from the council.
In response to the demonstrations, combined authority mayor James Palmer said: "While we support the right to peaceful protest, we hope planned demonstrations cause minimum disruption and do not endanger the safety of people across the area."
Despite not requesting to speak in advance, which is the normal procedure, the council said the protesters could address the chamber.
Cllr Bird said: "I was quite upset really because I gave them the opportunity to have their say and they disrupted the whole meeting."
The dramatic protest is set to be followed by a 24/7, week-long protest closing parts of Cambridge on Sunday (February 16).
The council said the proposed budget contained money to engage residents on the issue of climate change, including an extra £2.5 million to insulate council housing.
The council needs to pass its budget by the end of the month, although it said it has cut its carbon emissions by 25 per cent in the last five years.