Why we need informal events

(A guest post by James Woudhuysen). Why are music festivals now so popular? Where are they headed? Music festivals are part of a wider trend for people to find value in live entertainments that are not mass-produced or tightly structured like a Premier League match or a stadium concert. Today’s popular quest for authenticity bodes well for such informal events. In balloon launches or a pop-up Japanese cultural festival in Leeds, people now gain not just recreation or relief from the virtual world of screens, but also a real and tangible chance to find meaning and social solidarity. Yet informal events face…

The red tape that stopped me from volunteering to sit with the dying

(A guest post by Linda Hughes) Every now and then, the whole country is seized with a moral panic. Common sense and logic fly out of the window. Following the Soham murders of two 10-year olds in 2002, paedophile school caretaker Ian Huntley was found guilty of their murders and jailed for 40 years. The tabloid press went to town. In the prevailing climate of moral panic, the government asked civil servant Michael Bichard to report and make recommendations about child protection. Bichard recommended the setting up of the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). The Bichard Report was published on 22 June 2004 and made…

PSPOs and the ‘Preventative State’

(A guest post by Dr Ben Stanford, Coventry University). In the 2019 Reith Lectures, former Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption described what he perceived as the law’s expanding empire into every corner of our lives. Whilst some of the law’s intervention is forced upon us, Sumption argues that two of the reasons for its expansion are down to collective choices – the growing moral and social pressures to produce conformity but also the constant quest for greater security and to reduce risk in our daily lives. Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs), introduced by the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, are…

How PSPOs are a threat to busking

(A guest post by Chester Bingley, head of Keep Streets Live Campaign.) The rather Orwellian-sounding Public Spaces Protection Order forms part of the 2014 Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act. Introduced by Theresa May during her time as Home Secretary, the aim of the Act was to streamline and speed up the process of dealing with antisocial behaviour and, in the words of the White Paper that proposed it “to challenge dangerous and yobbish behaviour of those who make victims’ lives a misery“. One of the frightening things about the PSPO is that Local Authorities are effectively handed a book of blank…

Comment on Birmingham school protests

Birmingham City Council is considering a PSPO to restrict parents protesting outside primary schools, in disagreement with the schools’ teaching on sexuality. Here is the Manifesto Club statement on the issue: PSPOs should not be used to restrict peaceful protest in public places. There are already powers to prosecute acts of intimidation, violence or harassment, but the peaceful expression of opinions should not be criminalised. Indeed, a PSPO exclusion zone could well be illegal: the primary legislation on PSPOs requires councils to ‘have particular regard to the rights of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly’, to ensure that these rights are…

Stop Kensington and Chelsea Council stamping on street entertainment

Kensington and Chelsea Council is planning a wide-ranging crack-down on street entertainment, which will severely limit, and in some areas prevent, busking in the borough. The council has drawn up a ‘voluntary code’, which includes measures such as: limiting performances to 45 minutes; banning busking before 10am or after 7pm; limitation of performers to 6, or in some areas 2 or 3; requiring buskers to have public liability insurance; requiring buskers to limit sound levels. These measures would prevent choirs or larger groups, prevent busking at peak times, and restrict busking slots to an unreasonably short period. Still worse, the council is…

Richmond Council’s abortion clinic PSPO: Manifesto Club response

Richmond council is planning a PSPO targeting anti-abortion protests outside an abortion clinic on Rosslyn Road. Here is the Manifesto Club response to this proposal. Dear Richmond Council, The Manifesto Club would like to register its opposition to your proposed text for a PSPO, on the grounds that the text is too broad, and fails to target harmful or nuisance detrimental behaviour. We specifically object to the prohibition on Protesting, namely engaging in any act of approval or disapproval or attempted act of approval or disapproval, with respect to issues related to abortion services, by any means, including, without limitation, graphic, verbal…