Ken Livingstone joins Hackney students in fees protest

BSix College students among those taking a stand

Labour politician Ken Livingstone signed a petition against education cuts as hundreds of students from schools, sixth forms and colleges across Hackney joined a mass walkout in central London on Wednesday (November 24).

Mr Livingstone was met by activists when he visited BSix College in Kenninghall Road, Lower Clapton, to speak about the future of young people in London.

They were among hundreds who marched on Hackney Town Hall in Mare Street on Wednesday lunchtime, despite being barred from leaving classes, before joining the demonstrations in Westminster.

An estimated 10,000 young people took to the streets of the capital furious at university fees and the axing of the education maintenance allowance (EMA), which allows many to stay in school.

BSix psychology and philosophy student Louis Van Kleeff took part in the Hackney march during his lunch break then cycled to Trafalgar Square in a free period.

“In central London there was good support – lots of people were sounding their horns and shouting,” said the 19-year-old of Bethnal Road, Stoke Newington.

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“I am going to university next year but I have got two little brothers – I do not want to be the person to tell them I didn’t try.

“It is a big problem for us because it squeezes a whole lot of people out of education. I need my 30 quid EMA or else I can’t go to college.”

More than 30 protesters were arrested as police used the controversial kettling technique to defuse the demonstrations.

“Police were blocking entrances and exists,” said Louis.

“Most people aren’t there to mess stuff around. There are some very angry people but that doesn’t justify it.

“The violent side of things is only going to harm the cause in the long run. It discredits everything.”

More protests have been planned for coming weeks.

“It has to carry on. I do not think people can roll over,” said Louis.