Lift the ban on campaign stalls in Newham, east London
East London Socialist Party members
While some of Newham's Labour councillors claim to oppose the government's austerity measures such as the bedroom tax, community activists say Newham council has effectively banned them from publicly campaigning against such punitive attacks.
Instead of allowing campaign groups to have non-obstructive stalls in large pedestrian areas, such as Meridian Square, Stratford, campaigners accuse council enforcement officers of misusing the Highways Act 1980 to ban such activities.
A Socialist Party member using a stall to petition against the bedroom tax has been issued a fixed penalty notice and is being taken to court by the council.
A number of different groups, such as Tamil Solidarity in East Ham, have also been harassed and threatened with fines for using a campaign stall.
Helen Pattison from No Bedroom Tax in Newham called this harassment: "an attack on democratic rights to free speech and assembly across Newham".
In the neighbouring boroughs of Redbridge and Waltham Forest, it has been possible, after a campaign, to obtain permission for political parties and campaign groups to use public stalls.
Now trade unionists, political parties and community campaigners from across the borough are coming together to demand Newham council ends this deplorable attack on democratic rights and allow campaign groups to enjoy reasonable use of the thoroughfares.
In May 2014 there will be local and mayoral elections across London.
If Newham council is allowed to proscribe public campaign stalls and curb campaigning activities it will put other parties at a disadvantage to the establishment parties and to Labour's monopoly of council seats.
It's time to stop these attacks on our democratic rights. It's time to campaign for our right to campaign!
- Democratic rights and freedom of speech and assembly for Newham residents
- Newham council withdraws legal action against the public campaigning activities of political parties, trade unions and community groups.
- End the use of police and law enforcement officers to harass and prevent political and community campaigning in Newham.
- Allow reasonable use of thoroughfares for campaigning purposes.
In The Socialist 4 September 2013:
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