Councils charge for public photography

Somebody just emailed me this – Birmingham council is charging people to take personal wedding photographs in public parks.

“You are welcome to use our parks or green open spaces as backdrops for your wedding photographs and/or film recordings of your Wedding day for personal use only, with prior permission from us. Use service specific Parks form to make your request providing dates, times and the name of the site where you want to take your photographs. There is a charge of £50 for commercial photographs and £25 for non-commercial photographs.”

This is very much a sign of the times – councils renting out public space as if it were their private property. We came across this in our Campaign Against Leafleting bans, where councils charge large amounts for people to stand on a corner and hand out leaflets, or to put up posters in official ‘poster sites’.

£25 is not a lot, but the principle is. This is a new kind of local authority charge. The council is not charging for a service rendered, nor it is taking a cut of the profit in market sales or transactions. This is a tax or charge on the very use of public space itself – to take a photo, or hand out a leaflet, where no service is rendered and no profit made.

In this, councils are behaving as if public space were their private property, and they have the right to charge a rent for its use. Which removes private citizens’ right to use public space freely, since they have no a priori right and must pay the fee to gain the temporary use of it from the freeholder…

If you have any views on this, you can contact:

FILM Birmingham; Email