Lifestyle & Belief

London cabbies protest VIP Olympic lanes


A London "Black Cab" taxi drives through a patch of standing water after a heavy downpour in London. Two in every five London cabbies are planning to boycott the 2012 Olympic games because of roadway restrictions they believe are cutting into their business.


Bruno Vincent

London cabbies are protesting for the third time over being locked out of VIP lanes dedicated to Olympic traffic.

With the Olympics opening ceremony scheduled to start at 9 p.m. London time (4 p.m. EDT), the taxi drivers were due to start their protest at London's Hyde Park corner at 5 p.m. (12 p.m. EDT), reported the Associated Press. But after police put restrictions on their demonstration, the black-cab drivers moved their action up to 2 p.m. (9 a.m. EDT).

According to the Press Association, Scotland Yard said it had imposed conditions on the protest under section 12 of the Public Order Act 1986.

"The Metropolitan police took the decision based on concerns that, if the protest were to go ahead in the time and location specified by the group, it would cause serious disruption to the life of the community," said a statement, reported the PA. "The conditions imposed state that the protest must not start after 1600 on 27 July nor recommence until 0400 on 28 July on any part of the Olympic route network. During the time period specified all participants must remain south of the river Thames, must remain in their vehicles and remain moving unless they become stationary by circumstances outside their control.

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"Our position on protest is clear – people do have a right to demonstrate, which is an important part of our democracy; however, that right must be balanced against the rights of others.

"We will facilitate protest and take a proportionate approach at all times."

Today's protest put traffic at a standstill from about 2 p.m. to 2:50 p.m. London time, until police cleared the area, reported BBC News. The gridlock also caused congestion at all entry points to Hyde Park Corner and Grosvenor Place.

According to the AP, the London cabbies have already held two other protests over not being allowed into the VIP lanes, which are reserved for Olympic officials and athletes, including one that jammed traffic at Parliament Square.

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