A NOISY protest march drowned out shoppers' chatter in a bid to stop an arts centre being demolished.

Around 50 people paraded from Haviland Road to Boscombe precinct in Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon.

They oppose the £168,000 bulldozing of the Bournemouth Centre for Community Arts (BCCA) to replace it with a temporary car park.

They handed out balloons, chanted slogans, played bongos and urged shoppers to join in.

The parade may have been ramshackle but it was good-natured - a mix of everyday people, artists, and the area's more bohemian residents.

Shirley McKenna, from Bac-Hus, said: "Our artists would love to be able to use it. All the space available locally is fully booked up."

Lee Rowland, 35, a psychology lecturer, said: "It's a beautiful old Victorian building."

All the onlookers questioned by the Daily Echo were passionately supportive of the protest.

The council has said the building is not financially viable. Security costs £1,800 a month and £42,000 is needed this year to deal with vandalism and break-ins.

The protesters suspected artists' and charities' rental fees to use the community arts centre were too small to suit the council, and that the site would eventually be sold to a developer to build flats.

They believe the centre can be used by local charities like Vita Nova, which works with substance abusers, or Clubhouse, which works with people with mental health problems.

Cllr Phil Stanley-Watts, a Boscombe West councillor, pointed out that an arts consultant recently recommended Bournemouth should rent out its empty council buildings to fledgling artistic businesses, in order to start regenerating parts of the town.

Cllr Stanley-Watts said the BCCA would be a perfect place to start.