Saturday, 21 March 2009

BNP on High Row

Today is a lovely sunny day in Darlington. I'm at work in Post House Wynd. Just round the corner on High Row the BNP have set up a stall, and have tied a Union Flag to the High Row steps. There are about ten of them handing out leaflets.

I was alerted to this by a friend of mine who is a pharmacist on duty today in Rowlands Chemists, outside which the BNP are distributing their nasty literature. My friend is from India.

I have spoken to a senior officer at the Council who in turn has established that they have no permission to set up tables on High Row. The CCTV control room and the police have been informed. Whether anyone actually moves them on is doubtful, though a football supporters' march is due to set off from the town clock in a few minutes time, marshalled by the police, so we'll see if anything happens then.

It's all very distasteful on such a lovely day.


Hywel said...

Do political parties (however horrible) need permission to set up stalls in public areas?

Whenever I've asked the answer has been no - the only legal issue would be issues like obstructing the highway or behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace etc.

If we start getting the BNP "moved on" what happens when Labour try the same thing on us?

Mike Barker said...

Apparently they do need permission, though whether this is a legal requirement or a traditional requirement in this particular location I don’t know. The High Row is the main pedestrianised area of Darlington, formerly the route of the A1 trunk road through the town.

Other political parties and interest groups do seek permission from the Highways Authority (Darlington Borough Council) before they set up tables and stalls there. Distributing leaflets is ok, setting up a stall is not, apparently.

I shall write to the Chief Executive on Monday to get clarification.

Anonymous said...

get a life man.

Mike Barker said...

Later in the morning the police had to intervene after one member of the BNP started taking photographs of the Socialist Worker sellers also operating, as usual, on High Row.

The newspaper seller rightly objected to having his photograph taken.

What reason, I wonder, could the peace-loving BNP have for photographing their political opponents? At the very least it could be seen as a deliberate attempt to provoke a public confrontation, something this bunch would probably relish. At worst, something more sinister.

miketually said...

"The newspaper seller rightly objected to having his photograph taken."

But, as he's in a public place, he can't actually stop them taking his photo.

I'm all for stopping the BNP, but eroding the basic freedoms of everybody is not the way to do it.

Mike Barker said...

But what about the rights of an individual to go about his legitimate business in a public place without the fear of intimidation by others? Because that is what the BNP were doing: taking photos as a deliberate act of intimidation, not because they wanted snaps of the town clock.

miketually said...

yes, intimidation would be illegal surely. But, taking photos is not (despite New Labour's attempts).

Anonymous said...

It's certainly not illegal in any way to take photographs of anyone in a public place. The best form of defence I've witnessed in this situation is attack. The BNP simply do not like having their picture taken. Put the boot on the other foot and see how they like it.