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Pressure builds on Occupy Beursplein camp to scale down or quit

Amsterdam’s branch of the Occupy movement is coming under renewed pressure from the city’s mayor to downsize its encampment on the Beursplein.

The Occupy camp has been on the Beursplein since October 15.Mayor Eberhard van der Laan wrote to the protesters, who set up the camp on October 15, after they failed to comply with a set of demands which would have allowed them to maintain a reduced presence in the square.

Van der Laan has tried to keep a constructive dialogue open with the movement and offered them an alternative site on the Zuidas, but the signs are that the mayor’s patience is running out.

Before visiting the Beursplein on Saturday, he said: "Of course Occupy Amsterdam has the right to demonstrate. This is part of our democracy and freedom of speech. But the nuisance around the camp at night has little to do with the demonstration and safety has to come first."

After setting them an initial deadline of December 5, Van der Laan has extended the ultimatum to 10am on Thursday, December 8. The Labour (PvdA) mayor is under increasing pressure from businesses, local residents and other political parties to take a tougher line if his demands are not met this time.

The protesters had been ordered to clear three-quarters of the square of tents and restrict the number of people staying in the camp overnight to four.

They were also required to install sanitary facilities that met hygiene standards set by the local community health service (Gemeentelijke Gezondheidsdienst/GGD).

Drugs and alcohol are forbidden in the camp, as are cars, caravans and loud music after 10pm.

The protesters say the problems have been caused by “alcoholics, drug addicts... and ‘visitors’ who have nothing to do with the movement”.

The police, fire service and GGD have all offered to help transfer the camp to the mayor’s preferred site at the Zuidas. But the protesters are reluctant to give up their symbolic pitch on the doorstep of Amsterdam’s stock exchange building.