Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Further curtailment of freedom?

Unbeknown to me it would appear that the Labour Party, when in government, within the Clean Neighbourhood and Enviroment Act 2005 made it illegal to distribute leaflets within areas designated by local authorities - a ban which does not apply to religious or political material.
"SCHEDULE 3A Free distribution of printed matter on designated land

Offence of unauthorised distribution

1 (1) A person commits an offence if he distributes any free printed matter without the consent of a principal litter authority on any land which is designated by the authority under this Schedule, where the person knows that the land is so designated.

(2) A person commits an offence if he causes another person to distribute any free printed matter without the consent of a principal litter authority on any land designated by the authority under this Schedule.

(3) A person is not guilty of an offence under sub-paragraph (2) if he took reasonable steps to ensure that the distribution did not occur on any land designated under this Schedule.

(4) Nothing in this paragraph applies to the distribution of printed matter—

(a) by or on behalf of a charity within the meaning of the Charities Act 1993, where the printed matter relates to or is intended for the benefit of the charity;

(b) where the distribution is for political purposes or for the purposes of a religion or belief.
The latest council to join places such as Leicester, Newquay, Newcastle, Brighton and Sawbridgeworth is Oxford, where the city council have just banned leafleting in the city centre. From the report issued as a result of this meeting it would appear that:
The leafleting licenses will cost £100 per person per month, or £450 per person per year. Therefore, if say five people wish to promote a venture - for example a new business or service, this will cost them £500. They must each buy their own badge.
Anybody handing out leaflets must have their authorisation badge ‘clearly displayed at all times’.
Council officials can ask leafleters to provide a list of distributors – including their dates of birth, addresses, what they are handing out, and where.
Every leaflet must bear the unfriendly message: ‘It is an offence to litter. Dropping this leaflet on the ground could result in a maximum fine of £2500.’
‘Irresponsible drinks promotions’ (which basically includes most drinks offers) are banned. All promotions for alcohol must also carry the Drink Aware message.
All leaflets ‘must meet the standards of the Advertising Standards Authority. Particular care should be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age or disability.’
Intriguingly, I wonder about the phrase "(b) where the distribution is for political purposes or for the purposes of a religion or belief " as one would presume the word "belief" refers to one of theological content, however it does not specifically imply that. Therefore if one has a "belief" that this is a draconian law and can be disregarded..........?

I suppose when all is considered we should count our blessings that we have such benevolent slave masters........


paulsc said...

Doesn't this make you sick. A policy that was never discussed that I can redcall but if it was you can just hear them saying 'It's just to stop people creating litter'. Nothing in the legislation (I have only read what you reporduced) talks about licensing but the weasel word unauthorised gives councils the ability to raise yet more money. My family comes from Leicester and I don't think any of them know that this is now the case.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

p: I doubt anyone knew of these 'permissions required' until these notices started appearing - but is not that how govts work???

The Boiling Frog said...

I was alerted to this a while ago by a member - another of those laws Labour 'snuck in'

I wonder if ironically there's no ban on political literature because it would breach 'Human rights' law

WitteringsfromWitney said...

TBF: I suspect political content is not included as it allows local authorities to produce their crap - about how good they are - unhindered! In other words it has sod all to do with Human Rights, just theirs......