Protester climbs scaffolding around Big Ben with very mixed message

A protester dressed as Spiderman has been arrested after climbing the scaffolding around Big Ben.

He was pictured this morning arranging some posters about lockdown low down on the Elizabeth Tower in Westminster, London.

The message the protester is trying to deliver however is muddled, with the first sentence reading: ‘No tier 3 lockdown for Great Northern Powerhouse unless an extra £2 billion for whole region from Chester, Stoke, Derby, Boston, Skegness to the Scottish Border.

‘If not: Great Northern Rebellion.’

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But the posters also confusingly reference Extinction Rebellion, Black Lives Matter, unions and LGBTQ movements.

Another poster reads: ‘Black and all lives matter – so unify! – peoples of the world unite! To put things right!’

Police were called to the scene shortly before 8am this morning and it took them until 9.45am to convince the man to come down.

The man, aged in his 60s, was checked by paramedics before being arrested on suspicion of criminal trespass.

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The protester appeared to be speaking out against tier 3 coronavirus lockdown restrictions in the North without funding, but the message was not quite clear.

A number of people on social media raised safety and security concerns following the incident.

One Twitter user said: ‘Great a police officer died in an terrorist attack 2017, and yet people can still get though high security.’

Another tweeted: ‘On a serious note, this is concerning that he was able to get that far given how much of a terrorist target Westminster Palace is. 

‘How does someone even get that far without being challenged? Was he not seen on CCTV? What if he was a wannabe Guy Fawkes and he had an IED?’

Big Ben is what the bell inside the top of the building is called – which is actually named the Elizabeth Tower – but the name is commonly mistakenly extended to the whole structure.

The Elizabeth Tower, originally called the Clock Tower until it was renamed in 2012, has been covered in scaffolding since its four-year restoration scheme began in 2017.

The cost of the £80 million restoration project is thought to have risen by a third since it started.

Works to remove the scaffolding started last month to reveal the roof of the tower before the restoration is completed next year.

The bell has been silent since the start of the renovation works, except for important occasions such as New Year’s Eve and Remembrance Sunday where it has been controlled by an electric motor.

It will resume its normal schedule of striking from 2021.

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