A critical and liberal look at law and policy
Closing the doors at St Paul’s Cathedral
Posted by David Allen Green – 26 October 2011 13:00
How seriously is the Cathedral taking health and safety concerns?
The doors of St Paul’s Cathedral are now closed to all visitors. No tourists or worshippers are allowed in. One of the finest ecclesiastical buildings in Europe, which for centuries towered over the rest of London, is no longer open simply because, it is said, of health and safety and the tents of the “Occupy LSX” protesters outside.
(17.50) A further statement has now been issued:
The Dean of St Paul’s, The Right Reverend Graeme Knowles, said tonight that he was optimistic that St Paul’s Cathedral would be able to reopen to the public on Friday afternoon (28 October) following significant changes to the layout of those dwelling in tents outside of the Cathedral which was achieved this afternoon.
“The staff team here have been working flat out with the police, fire brigade and health and safety officers to try to ensure that we have confidence in the safety of our worshippers, visitors and staff which will allow us to reopen.” said Dean Knowles this evening.
“We have wide statutory obligations to ensure the safety of our staff, congregation, visitors and pilgrims and final checks will be made tomorrow. A passageway allowing evacuation procedures to be improved has been created; the kitchen providing food for those in the camp has been moved from close proximity to the building; bicycles chained to the railings have been shifted and a clear pathway restored”, said the Dean tonight.
He added: “We have alternative arrangements in place to safeguard the evacuation of the crypt and floor areas but, for the time being, the galleries and dome will remained closed. Our continued dialogue with the fire brigade, police, and our own fire safety advisors has been encouraging.”
Dean Knowles said that the Chapter would reach a final decision tomorrow on the re-opening: “We will revisit the risk assessment in the light of any overnight developments and subject to us getting the green light we hope to reopen in time for the 1230 Eucharist on Friday to which everyone is welcome.”
On the question of the future of the campsite, the Dean explained: “We reiterate our basic belief in the right to protest as well as requesting that those people living in the tents now leave the site peacefully.”
He added: “We want the site to be fully open to members of the public to have open access over the area as well as for those wanting to visit St. Paul’s. The mission of the cathedral is committed to the Christian Gospel message of justice, dignity and peace. The debate about social justice and economic policy will remain at the heart of the work of the St Paul’s Institute.”
As regards any other action the Dean said “We have been and continue to take legal advice on a range of options including court action. Chapter very much hopes that we will achieve a peaceful solution.”
David Allen Green is legal correspondent of the New Statesman and a solicitor working in the City of London.
This link from the ‘New Statesman’ gives us the latest information about the situation of the stand-off between the Dean and Chapter of Saint Paul’s Cathedral and the Protesters, who have created a tented enclave around the Cathedral.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand