Around 150 people gathered in Cornmarket Street yesterday in a "Kill the Bill" protest.

The action came ahead of a crucial vote on the bill by peers on Monday.

Activists took to the streets across the country, calling on the House of Lords to reject the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill which they say would restrict their right to protest peacefully.

Demonstrations took place in cities including London, Bristol, Coventry, Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Plymouth on Saturday.

Protesters describe it as a draconian and anti-democratic crackdown on the right to assembly, freedom of expression and other civil liberties.

One onlooker said: “It was very peaceful protest, they were listening to music, there were drums and speeches. I would say there were about 150 people."

In the capital, many hundreds marched from Holborn past Downing Street to Westminster, chanting “kill the bill” and “this is what democracy looks like” and carrying banners and placards that read “defend the right to protest”, “we will not be silenced” and “soon this sign could be illegal”.

A wide range of social, racial and environmental justice groups, including Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion, joined the rally, demanding that peers stop the bill from becoming law.

Labour peer Baroness Chakrabarti told a crowd staging a sit-in on Parliament Square that the anti-protest provisions in the legislation “represent the greatest attack on peaceful dissent in living memory”.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn warned that the laws would “disempower” the public.

He said: “If the right to protest is restricted, if you have to seek police permission to do anything, well, where does that lead to?"

In its current form, the bill would put protesters at risk of lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines for actions that cause “serious annoyance”, which could be done just by making noise, and for anyone found guilty of damaging a statue or memorial.

It would expand police stop-and-search powers, and new laws against residing on land without authorisation with a vehicle would effectively criminalise the way of life of gypsy, Roma and traveller communities.

Amendments added to the bill by the Government in the House of Lords in November make it a criminal offence to obstruct major transport works or attach oneself to objects or people, and would equip police with the power to ban named individuals from demonstrating or even using the internet to encourage others to do so.

Labour members in the House of Lords tweeted that they will be “opposing protest clauses added late on” to the wide-ranging bill in Monday’s votes.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has argued that the laws are to rein in disruptive protest actions by groups such as Insulate Britain, who have glued themselves to motorways, but critics say its impact would be much further reaching.