CARDIGAN Town Council are backing the seventy campaigners who gathered illegally beneath Cardigan Castle to register their distaste for the controversial Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill on Saturday.

The Bill would grant the police enhanced powers limiting the right to peaceful protest, greater stop and search powers, and – most controversially – potentially result in longer prison terms for defacing a statue than for rape.

And most members who attended last night’s virtual meeting of Cardigan Town Council expressed solidarity with the protestors.

“I think that this Bill would pit the police against the community,” Cllr Shan Williams told colleagues. “When things go wrong will the police be made into scapegoats?

“The Westminster Government want to do away with the freedom to protest – this will be the start of the silencing of the majority.”

However, Cllr Yvonne O’Neill argued that the corner below the castle was an ‘inappropriate’ location for such a protest as it was ‘off-putting’ for people coming into town.

“They took over a narrow pavement and I do not think that was the right place for a protest,” she added.

Cllr Williams countered that the demo was a legitimate means of opposing an attempt to stop non-violent protest.

“Once the Bill is made law it will not be rescinded; it will be set in stone,” she said.

Cllr Richard Jones shared the same viewpoint. “If you lose your right to a peaceful protest, it’s almost like a fascist society,” he commented.

“While we are disappointed there was a protest we certainly agree with objections to this Bill.”

Cllr Morvenna Richards described herself as a lifelong campaigner for disability and human rights.

“The women here tonight would not be at this meeting if it wasn’t for the suffragettes,” she said. “I didn’t go to this protest myself because I’m afraid of coronavirus.

“But we cannot sit back and allow people to not have the right to speak – the next thing we could lose is our right to vote.”

Cllr Clive Davies said protests could bring changes.

“We had one about the safe zone last year and now that’s been adjusted,” he pointed out.

Cllr Sian Maerhlein disagreed. “As there’s a pandemic I cannot go for a walk with my three children so I cannot agree with this,” she said.