The Manifesto Club is the civil liberties group that defends freedom in public spaces and civic life. We challenge the growing control of public spaces and informal life by state officials and private management companies.
Our flagship campaign is against Public Spaces Protection Orders – powers that allow councils to ban any activity they please in public spaces. We produce the only national data on the use of this power; we found that councils currently have 2,003 active PSPOs restricting activities including busking, begging, loitering, rough sleeping, charity collection, standing in groups, and ball games.
Our other key campaigns are against Community Protection Notices (which allow police and council officers to issue personal legal orders on the spot), Dispersal Notices (which allow police officers to order people to leave an area and not return for 48 hours), and ‘fining for profit’ (on-the-spot fines issued by private security guards on commission). We also take on red tape such as vetting and risk assessments for parent volunteers, busking and leafleting licences, and the renting out of public space – all of which obstruct and can prevent volunteering and public activities. Our research found that only 19% of councils would allow people to put up a political stall in a public space without booking or other formal procedures, and some councils charged £500 per day.
We campaign to keep civic life and public space free, for the use and enjoyment of the public in general. We need a sphere in which we can come together and build genuine community. Officials or management companies should not decide what we can do where, or make us fill in forms or pay fees first.
We are a small organisation, and travel light for maximum efficiency, but we punch above our weight. Our research has made several front-page stories and two Panorama investigations, as well as widespread print and radio media.
We have won changes to policy in several areas, including – the scrapping of the Vetting Database for adult volunteers; a rewriting of the Statutory Guidance on PSPOs; a small groups exemption for people handing out leaflets; and the reform of the points-based visa system for visiting artists. (We are in the process of gaining a ban on fining for profit, which Defra has pledged to put on a statutory footing in the near future).
We work closely with, and support, groups and individuals who have been affected by draconian powers. These include homeless people, buskers, young people, dog walkers, and individuals who have received an unfair Community Protection Notice or who have been unfairly fined by a private security company. It is their personal stories of injustice that show us the often terrible human consequences of these draconian powers and make us determined to change them.
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The club is overseen by a Board of Directors.
Our work is supported by members of the public, and trusts including the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, the Nigel Vinson Trust, LUSH Cosmetics, and the Andrew Wainwright Reform Trust.
Phone: 0779 1032740
Address: Manifesto Club ltd, 7-14 Great Dover St, London SE1 4YR, United Kingdom
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