AN ALLIANCE of groups gathered in Dorchester to take part in a Kill the Bill protest - with people urged to resist an 'undemocratic assault on democracy'.

The march, which was monitored by police, started in Cornhill around 11am on Saturday with 'more than 100 people' carrying out the protest through the town centre yesterday.

The event saw an act of solidarity between Dorset Trade Unions Council, Stand Up to Racism Dorset, Weymouth Animal Rights, Black Lives Matter, Unite and Extinction Rebellion, which formed a protest against the proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill, which could increase police powers to crack down on protests.

Jenny Lennon-Wood from Dorset Trades Union Council, said "The Bill aims to rob us all of our right to protest against the injustices of poverty pay, insecure jobs and discrimination in workplaces.

"We say a resounding no to this undemocratic assault on our democracy."

The protest joined a national day of action against the bill across many cities and towns in the UK.

Figures claim the new legislation is 'a deeply worrying step towards the UK becoming an authoritarian police state', giving police 'unprecedented power to crackdown on protests'.

A spokeswoman from Extinction Rebellion Dorchester said: "The right to peacefully assemble and protest are a fundamental part of any democracy, empowering people to have their voices heard, in addition to holding the Government to account.

The Policing Bill is a draconian piece of legislation that threatens the integrity of our democracy, breaking the UN Covenant on Human Rights."

Lynne Hubbard from Stand up To Racism Dorset, said: “The Government wants to criminalise people who protest against racism - like those who’ve joined demonstrations called by the Black Lives Matter movement.

"The Home Secretary described these as ‘dreadful’. What’s dreadful is the attack on our rights and on all those who want to see social justice."

Other groups included in the protest were Kushti Bok and the Hunt Saboteurs Association.

A spokesman from Kushti Bok, a local Dorset charity supporting Romany, Gypsy and the Traveller movement gave a speech which pointed claimed the bill is 'targeting travellers'.

The Kushti Bok spokesman said: "Families on the road in their caravans and tents can be fined up to £2,500. They can go to prison for up to three months. Their vehicles can be taken away from them. We're being criminalised."

Andrew Smith from Extinction Rebellion said: "As groups we all have our individual campaigns but this bill will affect us all and that is why we are joining together. People united are stronger and an alliance of movements and individuals is real people power and what the authorities that seek to repress us are most in fear of."

The protest advertised guidelines in order to ensure it is Covid-safe, with attendees requested to wear face-masks and maintain social distancing. Anyone who has Covid-19 symptoms was asked not to attend the protest.

A police spokesman said: "We were informed of plans for a planned protest in Dorchester on Saturday and liaised with the organisers to make them aware of the current law as they are required to take precautions to ensure people’s safety is not put at risk.

"We would like to thank the organisers for working with Dorset Police to allow a peaceful protest to take place that minimised disruption to the community."