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Last Updated: Friday, 1 July, 2005, 14:19 GMT 15:19 UK
Deal reached after G8 march talks
Gleneagles Hotel
Protesters will be allowed to march close to the Gleneagles Hotel
An agreement has been reached over a planned march near the venue of the G8 summit at Gleneagles next week.

G8 protesters and council officials had been at loggerheads over plans to walk past the Gleneagles Hotel on 6 July.

Protest group G8 Alternatives was first confined to nearby Auchterarder by Perth and Kinross Council.

But marchers can now walk to within 500 metres of the hotel, which the group labelled a "victory" for the right to protest in Scotland.

G8 Alternatives organiser Joshua Brown said: "This is absolutely a victory - not just for the demonstration but to preserve the right to protest in Scotland.

We have always acknowledged that protests were likely to take place and believe this is the best solution to deliver a properly organised demonstration
Willie Bald
Assistant Chief Constable

"We've been engaged in a massive political battle for months over the march at Gleneagles and we've built a movement here in Scotland standing up to the corrupt policies of the G8 that produce war, poverty and exploitation.

"It shows we are winning. This shows the power of the broad movement that we have built.

"The people who marched against the war in Iraq are the people who will be joining our march. These people are not coming here to cause trouble."

The new route is on the western side of Auchterarder and the march is planned to start at 1300 BST on Wednesday.

Alternative route

Marchers will assemble in Western Road and proceed along Orchil Road into Church Road and up to a security fence, which is close to the hotel.

They will then proceed along Easthill Road and Tullibardine Road and from there they will return to the starting point.

It has always been the aim of protesters to be seen and heard by the eight leaders of the world's leading industrialised nations.

G8 Alternatives said it expects at least 5,000 protesters to turn up.

Licensing Committee Convener, Councillor Alan Grant, said: "The council has always recognised and supported the right to peaceful protest.

"That is why we have, in partnership with Tayside Police, continued to negotiate with G8 Alternatives over the last six months to try to ensure they had an opportunity to protest peacefully and safely.

"Minimising disruption to the local community and ensuring public safety are our top priorities."

Assistant Chief Constable Willie Bald said: "We have always acknowledged that protests were likely to take place and believe this is the best solution to deliver a properly organised demonstration, indeed that is why the police encouraged continued discussions with G8 Alternatives."

Scottish Socialist Party MSP Frances Curran was jubilant that the march would be within "earshot" of the G8 leaders.

She said: "This is a famous victory for democracy and civil rights. I would pay tribute to everyone who has fought so hard to achieve this victory; this is a historic moment in Scottish politics."

Right decision

The MSP and three party colleagues have been hit with a suspension from the Scottish Parliament and a withdrawal of pay for the month of September after staging a noisy protest over the matter in the chamber on Thursday.

However, Ms Curran said it was a price worth paying for democracy.

The Scottish Green Party welcomed the news and said the right decision had been made by the authorities.

MSP Mark Ruskell said: "This will help to ensure that those keen to make their voice heard near to where the G8 leaders are meeting, will be able to do so in an organised, calm and peaceful way.

"Considering what issues are at stake - global poverty, trade injustice, and climate change - it is clear that those who feel strongly have a duty to ensure G8 leaders hear their message."

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