PLANS for a protest against university tuition fees by several hundred Cirencester students have been stamped on by police because the youngsters failed to give six days notice.

Gloucestershire police cited the Public Order Act 1986 as their reason for halting the peaceful protest. The act states that six days notice must be given to police if a protest or march is to take place.

Around 300 college students had been expected to join the march from Cirencester College to the town centre today, the day when MPs vote on the changes that will allow universities to increase their charges per student from the current level of £3,290 to £9,000 per year.

Police learned of the plans earlier this week and on Tuesday they delivered a letter to the march organisers stating that the event must not go ahead because the letter of the law had not been complied with.

Student representatives were later that day called to a meeting with police chiefs and told not to proceed with the protest.

The march had been jointly organised by Cirencester Colelge Student Union and Cotswold Liberal Youth, the local youth and student wing of the Liberal Democrats.

Joe Harris, 17, spokesman for the Cotswold Liberal Youth, who was at the meeting with police, told the Standard he felt he had no option but to call off the march.

"I have sent the word out on Facebook," he said, adding that the protest would still take place but would have to be a gathering within the confines of Cirencester College, which had given permission.

College principal Nigel Robbins said: "The college supports the students' peaceful demonstration. It is important that people realise that all families could be affected by the new policy, all but the very rich, that is.

"Please cheer them. These students are not layabouts. They are hard-working, ambitious and talented young people."

A petition at the college against the fees hike has so far be signed by almost 300 students and many more are expected.

"This will hit the poorest families and put them at a disadvantage," said Joe Harris. "I am not against a rise in fees but a rise from £3,000 to £9,000 is an incredible increase."

Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said he would be voting in favour of the Coalition plans.

"We live in very difficult financial times. The money has got to come from somewhere," he said.

"Those who are generally poorer will have exemptions. It is graduated towards people's incomes. People have to make the decision that if they want to go to expensive universities and get a better career they will have to contribute."

Students at Farmor's sixth form in Fairford were also hoping to stage some action of their own. Head boy Gummo Claire, 17, said he had collected 40 signatures and sent them with a letter to the education secretary.

"I may go to London myself," he said. "There is a feeling of general outrage at what is going on. I couldn't oppose it more."