The Metropolitan police have confirmed they will support a major London protest by families over the cost of childcare after concerns it would have to be cancelled.
Last Friday, the organisers Pregnant Then Screwed said the Met told them a temporary traffic order could not be issued and road closures and traffic management were not possible, putting the “March of the Mummies” event at the end of October in jeopardy. But after a further meeting on Tuesday the group confirmed the event had been given the go-ahead.
Events in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Leeds, Cardiff, Glasgow, Newcastle, Norwich, Belfast and Exeter are expected to attract more than 10,000 families - with 6,000 expected in the capital on 29 October.
After the Guardian reported the threat to the protest, the Met said it was not the case that the force was refusing to police the event.
On Tuesday, Commander Karen Findlay, the Met’s lead on major operations and public order – and most recently the silver command for the policing of events after the death of the Queen – said a meeting with organisers and the local authority covered “outstanding matters” regarding planning and each party’s role and responsibility. She added this was “consistent with what we do with organisers for any pre-planned events”.
“As a female commander, I’m really sensitive to all these important issues,” she said. “We care about them and we want to work in partnership with these groups as part of our commitment to build trust in the Met. I am confident we can do so in this instance given the important issues women and young girls are seeking to raise awareness about.”
The Halloween-themed March of the Mummies aims to put pressure on the government to help families with young children by providing affordable childcare, adequately paid parental leave and flexible working.
The UK has the second highest childcare costs in the developed world, with fees having almost doubled for families with a child under two since 2010, according to research by the Trades Union Congress. Recently, the Institute for Public Policy Research thinkthank called for universal childcare from the end of parental leave to boost economic growth and help parents with high costs.
Joeli Brearley, the chief executive and founder of Pregnant Then Screwed, said the meeting with the police and other bodies involved in the march was “very constructive”.
“We are thrilled to have the support of the Metropolitan police and Westminster council to ensure our march will be safe and successful,” she said. “We can now get on with the planning to stage the biggest protest of mothers the world has ever seen.”