Thursday 20 September 2012

Newham's Enforcement Officers Stop Forest Gate Campaigners From Handing Out Leaflets

As regular visitors to this site will know, I have a few disagreements with over-zealous anti-social behaviour officers in the past (in Newham and Redbridge) but today, I heard from campaigners trying to save the Old Spotted Dog pub on Upton Lane (above) that they had been stopped from leafletting outside of Forest Gate station and given a advice warning by Newham's 'Law Enforcement' officers.

Next Tuesday at 7.30pm, the new campaign has a public meeting at Durning Hall Community Centre about the appalling state of the former pub, which is a seventeenth century Grade II listed building and the borough's oldest secular building. Campaigners were giving out flyers today to encourage people to attend when council 'Law Enforcement' officers intervened, saying they were committing the offence of "distribution of free printed matter on designated land" under Schedule 3A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. As the leaflets were given out on the public footpath, the enforcement officers were asked what 'designated land' meant and they replied that it probably meant the whole of Newham.

Forest Gate railway station is outside of the Woodgrange Conservation Area, which may well be 'designated land', but I'd be very surprised if the whole of the borough had been designated by the local authority. It was evident that the 'Law Enforcement' officer wasn't sure. Anyway, paragraph 1(4) of the Schedule says there is an exemption for the distribution of printed materials in the following circumstances:
(a) by or on behalf of a charity within the meaning of the Charities Act 1993, where the printed matter relates to or is intended for the benefit of the charity;

(b) where the distribution is for political purposes or for the purposes of a religion or belief.
Promoting a campaign meeting to preserve a 400 year old building strikes me as both charitable and political, so what is Newham council playing at?

The campaign is now seeking legal advice. This kind of petty officiousness has to be stopped.For more on the public meeting, see below.


Anonymous said...

Typical, these guys are a nightmare. If you stand outside stratford station you can see them waiting for smokers to discard their cigarettes and then they swoop in to issue a £100 fixed penalty notice. No signs or education just a revenue raiser!!

Anonymous said...

Well, firstly the offence is only committed if the person knows that the land is so designated.

Since a principal litter authority may only designate land where it is satisfied that the land is being defaced by the discarding of free printed matter which has been distributed there, and since a notice must first be posted on the land specifying the extent of the designation and telling people how to object, it isn't going to be the whole Borough which has been designated!

So how can one know?

I'd say only by being shown a copy of the order.

I'm pretty sure there is no such order.

I've searched the Newham Recorder, the Newham Mag, and the London Gazette and can't find any notice of proposed designation (which is a requirement).

Far be it from me to suggest that Newham would deliberately mislead the public about their rights and the applicable law, but it does seem as if there may have been a convenient 'misunderstanding' by enforcement officers as to their powers.

A uniform can easily go to one's head. Especially if it looks very like a police uniform :)

Anonymous said...

I read in the Recorder about about a political candidate prosecuted for handing out leaflets. He lost the court case. However, I was surprised none of the labour activist were prosecuted for handing out Vote Ken leaflets outside startions (fare deal leaflet).

It is sad to read abotu such acts, because people who stand up and are doing something to improve the community should not be stopped....

Anonymous said...

Newham is becoming an oppresive state. I receive this recently....

Raid on Queens Market

[name deleted] explained that there had been a number of 'joint operation' raids on the [Queens] market in the past with Police, UK Border Agency, Market Inspectors, Health and Safety and Trading Standards all descending on the market's shops and stalls and looking for whatever infringements they could find.

The raid on 21 June involved some forty to fifty large officials many wearing 'flak jackets' and helmets. Border Agency staff questioned shoppers as well as asking traders about the immigration statuses of their staff. ---{a market trader}--- said that this upset his customers who said that it was a shame that they had to carry passports with them when they go out shopping.


Anonymous said...

(Part 2) A similar raid in Forest Gate.

From the Newham Mag
Following complaints from local
residents, Newham Council and
partners launched a massive
crackdown on crime and anti-social
behaviour in Forest Gate.
In one of the largest multi-agency
operations in the borough, almost
140 council enforcement officers,
police, immigration officers and
other agencies, swooped on
Sprowston Mews, off Romford Road.
Dubbed Operation Idaho, it was a
co-ordinated operation led by the
council’s enforcement team.
> 14 arrests in relation to alleged
immigration offences
> 13 tonnes of fly-tipped
commercial and domestic waste
> Three untaxed vehicles taken
> Six planning enforcement cases
> Ten premises subject to tax
> More than 35 notices served
by the council’s street scene
enforcement team.


140 officers seems an excessive show of force. How many drug dealers did they get? How many knives did they take off streets? How many guns? How many rapists? How many burglars? How many drug dealers? How many car thiefs? How many fraudsters? How many muggers?

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