Should activities in public space be limited? The UK approach.
Laws handing sweeping new powers to police and private security to restrict access to Britain's public space will extinguish the diversity of civic life, writes Josie Appleton. Time for us to rediscover and defend our freedoms!
Councils and the police will have an almost free hand to determine the use of all public spaces from civic squares to rural footpaths.
The idea of public space, as it developed in the modern period, was space for the free use and enjoyment of the citizenry.
The temper and character of public space should be determined not by any private or public authority, but by the ways in which people choose to use it.
A bill currently passing through the UK Parliament will mean the death-knell of this principle.
When the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill becomes law in a few weeks, we can say that there is no longer such a thing as public space proper in Britain.
This Bill greatly expands powers for state authorities to control who can do what in public space - to such a degree that Councils and the police will have an almost free hand to determine the use of all public spaces from civic squares to rural footpaths.
These new powers include 'Injunctions for the Prevention of Nuisance and Annoyance', under which anybody whose activity could cause "nuisance and annoyance" to "any other person" can be issued with an injunction prohibiting them from this activity or imposing positive conditions upon them.
Young skateboarder in park image via Shutterstock.
Read more at ENN Affiliate, The Ecologist.