THE leader of the borough council has spoken of his sadness over the ‘despicable’ death of George Floyd but urged those protesting locally to remember to obey social distancing guidelines.

Mr Floyd, 46, died in Minneapolis, Minnesota, when a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, sparking days of protests in cities across the United States.

Those protests have since made their way to the UK, and an event is set to take place in Andover today (Saturday) with a silent march around the town centre planned for midday.

Councillor Phil North, leader of Test Valley Borough Council, says he is pleased with that the organisers have had the wherewithal to remind attendees to follow social distancing guidelines.

Commenting in a Facebook post issued this morning, Cllr North wrote: “I was shocked and saddened to watch the coverage depicting the despicable death of George Floyd in the United States. I am not surprised that people in this country and in Test Valley want to show their solidarity with his friends and family and all those who are challenging inequality and discrimination.

“The events in America act as a stark reminder that each and every one of us should condemn racism wherever it occurs – and I understand those in our area who want, through peaceful means, to stand alongside all who are horrified and moved by what happens. Black lives matter.

“It is vital through that in adding their voices to the growing chorus of solidarity, no one puts their own or other lives at risk.

“I am, therefore, pleased to see that the organisers of the silent walk in Andover today (Saturday) have instructed everyone who is attending that they must obey strict social distancing measures.

“They must ensure this happens.”