Nexus has joined the call to avoid a repeat of the violent scenes at Grey’s Monument in Newcastle ahead of further protests planned in Newcastle tomorrow.
In an open letter signed by Newcastle City Council, Northumbria Police, business group NE1, Metro operator Nexus, and the North East Ambulance service, the city’s leaders said that the widely-condemned disorder “has no place here or anywhere else”.
They also urged all protesters to think twice about making their way into the city centre because of the coronavirus pandemic, warning that "complacency is our greatest enemy in the fight against the virus".
The open letter was signed by Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes, the council's chief executive Pat Ritchie, Northumbria Police assistant chief constable Helen McMillan, Northumbria police and crime commissioner Kim McGuinness, North East Ambulance Service deputy chief executive Paul Liversidge, the chief operating officer of Metro operators Nexus, Martin Kearney, and the chief executive of business group NE1, Adrian Waddell.
The letter reads:
“The right to peaceful protest is a fundamental part of our democracy, and it is part of what makes Newcastle a great northern city.
“But the disorder seen last Saturday has no place here or anywhere else.
“This weekend more protests are planned. It is also the first weekend of shops reopening after lockdown. It’s expected to be busy. Retailers are working hard to keep their businesses afloat in these anxious times and we wish them well.
“The right to lawful protest is a key part of any democracy, but we would urge people to take heed of the Public Health advice. Mass gatherings are currently banned for more than six people due to the need for social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We ask people to think twice about coming to the city to protest in the current circumstances and make their views known in other ways.
“Anybody who comes into our city with the intention of causing serious disorder is not welcome and will be met with a robust response from police.
“A number of arrests were made on Saturday as a result of the protest activity and several more suspects have been brought into custody this week as a police investigation continues.
“The city centre and shops have been remodelled to assist social distancing. Everyone needs to keep two metres apart from those not in their household or bubble, practise good hand hygiene, wear face covering on public transport and avoid overcrowded pinch points. Complacency is our greatest enemy in the fight against the virus. We don’t just owe it to ourselves and to each other but also to the care workers, paramedics, doctors and nurses who have toiled under great pressure for months to save lives.
“Our city has shown real grit and determination throughout a pandemic which has amplified inequalities in society.
“The safety of everyone is our utmost priority. However, people must also take responsibility for themselves to tackle the invisible enemy that is COVID-19. The virus is still out there and so we remind everyone to behave in a way which does not spread it. Stay safe.”