TRAFFIC was brought to a standstill in the centre of York last night as peace protesters occupied Ouse Bridge and Museum Street.

About 300 people took to the streets following a rally at St Sampson's Square to express their outrage at the war with Iraq.

They vowed to continue their campaign of peaceful protest and civil disobedience every day until the bombing stops.

Laura Potts, of York Against the War, began the rally at 6pm by telling assembled crowds: "This terrible atrocity is not in our name."

She asked the protesters to stand in silence for four minutes before leading a "people's parliament" where those gathered could share their thoughts about the day's events.

A cross-section of the York community took part in the protest and the atmosphere remained good-natured and peaceful throughout.

The crowd complied fully with the 20 or so police officers present.

Protesters praised children who had walked out of school earlier that day, but condemned York MP Hugh Bayley for his decision to support the Government.

At about 6.45pm, the crowd voted to go on an impromptu march towards Clifford's Tower, bringing traffic to a halt as they occupied the road.

Police swiftly arranged for the protest to move on to Ouse Bridge, diverting traffic along Skeldergate and Coppergate.

The protesters sat on the road for about 15 minutes before electing to march on to Museum Gardens.

They sat in the road once again as buses backed up along Lendal Bridge and bells rang out at the Minster.

They moved only to allow two ambulances and a fire engine through.

The protest eventually dispersed at about 8.30pm.

Keith Davis, of York Against the War, said that he was left "speechless" by the success of the rally and applauded the co-operation between the police and the crowd. The protesters were planning to meet again this evening and will be staging a protest at Menwith Hill RAF base in North Yorkshire at noon tomorrow.