The war in Iraq has triggered an unprecedented wave of protest in York. Political Reporter Richard Edwards observed local demonstrators as they said: "Not in our name"

YORK is not known for being a left-wing city with a strong tradition of political protest.

Unlike places such as Glasgow or Liverpool, York has traditionally tended to live life in the slower lane with a somewhat reserved view on life.

Until now.

The war in Iraq has seen protests springing up around York for much of this year.

And it's not just the "usual suspects" on the streets - they've been joined by people who have never protested before and may never protest again.

The first major demonstration came on February 15, a complement to the massive anti-war action in London.

This was followed by more than 5,000 people taking to York's streets in last Saturday's anti-war protest.

Last night, I watched as hundreds of York residents took to their streets to let local, national and international leaders know their views on the war.

What made last night's action even more astonishing was its spontaneity.

A rally in St Sampson's Square, attended by more than 500 people, led to a demand for an off-the-cuff march through the city centre to Clifford's Tower.

Though the demo was peaceful, the police briefly looked nervous. A large group of people, united by a common cause, were moving to an unknown destination.

Reinforcements were called in and York Against the War leaders negotiated with the police.

There was no need for the officers to have worried - the demonstrators had no violent intent.

But what they did have was a determination to make their point. At no time did their enthusiasm waver, and although their numbers were smaller by the time Ouse and Lendal Bridges were occupied, more than 300 people were still there and full of passion.

Both major city centre routes had been occupied, peacefully. York Against the War's call for civil disobedience had been more than met. An historic city known for its conservatism had seen a wave of people's protests, the city centre action following a day of demos from York's school pupils.

"I've been in York a long time and I've never seen anything quite like this. It's amazing," said a veteran woman campaigner, who would only say she was Elder, of Acomb, out with two-year-old daughter Izzy Apple.

DJs Fuddlewokkit and Flannelwarmer, of Norwich, have taken part in peace demonstrations in six British cities in the last week, and joined the York protesters at Lendal Bridge yesterday.

The duo have been sleeping in their car between demonstrations.

Fuddlewokkit said: "We wanted to do our bit. Bush and Blair say they are fighting a war on terror, but they are the world's number one terrorists."

The demonstration was divided at Ouse Bridge. Younger protesters wanted to stay, the more experienced wanted to march. "What will you achieve by getting arrested?" an older demonstrator asked a teenage colleague.

The marchers won the argument and the protest moved back to St Sampson's Square, before peacefully breaking up, their point made.

They'll be back.