Stop Swindon Council’s Attack on Street Culture

Stop Swindon Council’s Attack on Street Culture

 

Swindon’s Public Space Protection Order is an assault on the town’s civic life.

Skateboarding ‘or similar’ in an ‘annoying’ way, drawing pavement art with chalk, playing fetch with a dog without a lead, collecting money for a charity ‘assertively’, even peddling with a valid license could all become a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to £1000 under proposals tabled by Swindon Borough Council.

Taken together these measures represent a highly heavy handed approach to the oversight of the public spaces in the town, and the unnecessary creation of vague and ambiguous criminal offences so we are constructively opposing this measure. Please take a moment to fill out your own response to this measure, the more people who complete the consultation, the more chance we have of stopping these measures.

This is the Keep Streets Live Campaign response to Swindon Borough Council’s online consultation on whether to create 

Please take the time to complete the consultation via this link: 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8ZNRZQN

Feel free to use our responses as a guide

There is also a petition against this measure here: https://www.change.org/p/swindon-borough-council-stop-the-swindon-town-centre-public-spaces-protection-order#petition-letter

Swindon Borough Council (referred to hereafter as ‘the authority’) hereby makes the following Public Spaces Protection Order that applies to the public space as referred to within the marked boundary in Appendix One: 

Proposed Restrictions: 

1. Dogs on leads
Any person in charge of a dog, at any time, must keep the dog on a lead unless subject to exemptions listed in Appendix Two below.

KSL response 

It should not be a criminal offence to walk a dog without a lead. Instead dog-owners should be treated as responsible persons capable of making their own judgments about the nature of their dog and its relationship to public safety under existing legislation. This prohibition is unnecessarily wide and has the effect of criminalising harmless activities like playing fetch with a dog in a public place. It will have the presumably unintended effect of turning Swindon’s public spaces into more alienating environments, for dog-owners and non-dog-owners alike.

2. Alcohol
Any person is prohibited from, at any time, consuming alcohol or having an open alcohol container, unless subject to exemptions listed in Appendix Two below. 

KSL response 

    Once again this prohibition is framed too widely and criminalises people unnecessarily, for instance a family having a glass of wine with a picnic, two lovers having a glass of champagne in the park. A discretionary power allowing the police to request that persons surrender their drink upon request would allow the authorities to deal with any antisocial behaviour resulting from alcohol use without the need for authoritarian and catch-all measures.

3. Begging
Any person is prohibited from, at any time, placing himself in a position to receive alms for a continuing period. 

KSL response 

This is a particularly problematic prohibition from an equalities act and Human Rights Act standpoint. Creating a criminal offence that catches the most vulnerable and destitute members of society is punitive and unlikely to be effective. A beggar is unlikely to be able to afford to pay a £100 spot fine and will likely end up in court where they would face a mandatory court charge of £150 before the magistrates even had chance to pass a judgment. It is conceivable that some vulnerable persons might face imprisonment as a consequence of non-payment of court fees and fines. At a time of rising poverty and homelessness a local authority should not be using these discretionary powers to punish the poor and vulnerable. Additionally, these measures would leave Swindon open to a formal legal challenge. Oxford City Council’s proposals to make ‘persistent begging’ the focus of a PSPO proposal resulted in a formal legal challenge from the Human Rights body Liberty and widespread protests: https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/news/press-releases-and-statements/liberty-calls-oxford-city-council-scrap-unlawful-plans Oxford City Council subsequently adjusted the wording of their proposal to say ‘begging that could reasonably be perceived as aggressive’, which, whilst still highly problematic makes the proposal more proportionate to the potential social harms caused by begging. This measure should be removed from the PSPO.

4.) Peddling/Street Trading
Any person is prohibited from, at any time, peddling/trading goods without the written permission of the authority, even if licensed. 

  KSL response 

The criminalisation of pedlars and street traders under this prohibition, even if they hold a valid license, is punitive and unnecessary and an attack on a legitimate way of making a living. Peddling is a valid and lawful means of making a living in the UK with a history that predates the 1871 Pedlar’s Act. The working of this prohibition is also vague enough to have worrying implications for other users of public spaces such as buskers who might make CDs of their performances available to passerby.

5.) Skateboarding
Any person is prohibited from, at any time, using a skateboard or similar in a way that may damage property or cause nuisance or annoyance.

KSL response 

The wording of this prohibition is vague and open ended:  ‘Any person is prohibited from, at any time, using a skateboard or similar in a way that may damage property or cause nuisance or annoyance’

This means that a skateboarder could face a criminal record and fines of up to £1000 for causing ‘annoyance’ to someone. What definition of ‘annoyance’ is being used? What, indeed, is ‘similar’ in relation to a skateboard? A bicycle? A tricycle? A zimmer frame? A scooter?

This is an unnecessary and punitive measure that will have a disproportionate impact on young people for whom skateboarding is a hobby and pastime, and creates an unnecessary relationship of antagonism between the local authority and the skateboarding community.

It is also probably unlawful because it creates an unacceptable degree of uncertainty about what behaviour is, and isn’t lawful. For example, is riding a scooter or tricycle in a way that someone finds annoying unlawful under this prohibition?

Existing legislation relating to criminal damage and public order is more than adequate to deal with any concerns about the ‘excesses’ of the skateboarding community.

6.) Marking surfaces/chalking
Any person is prohibited from, at any time, directly marking surfaces such as walls or pavements with paints, chalk or similar without the written permission of the authority.

Street art using chalk that can be washed off by an afternoon of rainfall or a bucket of water should not be a criminal offence. In no way can it meaningfully be said to have a detrimental effect on the local area, in fact, street art, alongside street entertainment is a long established part of any vibrant street culture and should be encouraged and supported by the local authority, not subject to punitive fines and criminalisation.

7.) Aggressive Charity Collection 

Any person is prohibited from, at any time, on land detailed in Appendix One below, engaging in assertive or aggressive (commercial or charity) collection or soliciting of money. 

KSL response

Once again the wording of this prohibition is dangerously vague and open-ended and creates a potentially ambiguous criminal offence of ‘assertive’ charity collection. What objective standard of ‘assertiveness’ or ‘aggressiveness’ is being proposed to evaluate an offence which carries a criminal record and fines of up to £1000?Why is existing public order legislation such as the Public Order Act 1986 which created the offence of causing ‘alarm, harassment or distress’ insufficient to address a situation where there were concerns about the approach of a charity collector? What standard of evidence will be used to establish that this ‘offence’ has occurred?This has been poorly thought through and is most probably unlawful, and would be open to legal challenge.

This post was written by
Singer-Songwriter/Professional Street Performer/Campaigner/Wandering Minstrel

30 Comments on "Stop Swindon Council’s Attack on Street Culture"

  • * Busker on Busker Violence

    But first Jonny lets get our own house in order eh!.

    Yeah, Jonny , time to truly expose the ‘hyporicsy’ of BuskerTony Scott described as ‘’ my friend from Birmingham ‘’ by your colleague Chester Bingley ( at ‘Buskers Unregulated!’ ), who according to ‘local’ press has just failed to turn up at Magistrates Court for ‘ threatening to cut of the fingers of another Busker, 18 year old ‘female’ music student , Demi Marinder ‘. He’s wanted for harrassment, & causing fear of violence!.

    Lets hope they catch the ‘b—–‘ eh Jonny ?
    ( Birmingham Mail, 15 Oct 2015 Birmingham Buskers Threat to Chop off Fingers of Teenage Rival.. )

    • * Note

      I remember going out of my way, a few years back to attend a meeting in Liverpool ( my first & last attendance at a so-called Streetslive meeting! ) specifically to warn you about this guy, you deliberately ‘ignored’ me & what I said ( ie. simply ‘drowning’ me out of the discussion ) preferring instead ( I guess for ‘political’ reasons ) to adopt ‘him’ as ‘ a friend’ & support him against ‘just’ accusations that he was guilty of causing ‘noise’ nuisance ( ie. playing with excessive ‘volume’ levels ) in Birmingham city centre.

      You also played ‘flying’ monkey in his campaign to ‘smear’ me for supposedly bullying other buskers in Stratford upon Avon. I remind ‘you’ ( & others ) that Stratford upon Avon has a well ‘developed’ busking scheme ( incl 2hr revolving spot sharing ! ) yet Scott decided to ‘waltz’ into town on a ‘flying’ visit, ignore the existing code ( agreed! ), & selfishly take up a key town centre spot all afternoon for himself & ‘female’ partner he was travelling with.

      Town Hosts & Police were called ( as part of the civil code! ) partly due to reports of ‘excessive’ noise levels etc, he was reprimanded. It was in this context that he then embarked on a ‘malicious’ campaign to scapegoat me eg. ‘smear’ me for bullying. I know he was ‘key’ in your attempting to label me as an ‘aggressor’ ( bully ) amongst your ‘streetslive’ circles.

      Furthermore there were ‘racist’ implications here as it came across as ‘him’ trying to bracket me as the ‘archetypal’ aggressive Nigger!. A totally unfounded lie & distortion of the ‘facts’, i.e. because I’m in ‘general’ a busking supporter of & consciously work within the working ‘civil’ busking scheme devised &’set-up’ by ‘experienced’ local professional Folk Musician Marion Morgan ( in ‘consultation’ with others! ). To my knowledge other ‘local’ Buskers in the main support the scheme ( once they fully understand it’s rationale! ) too!.

      • Yeah Tony Scott now ‘wanted’ for threatening to cut off the fingers of a yg music student, who, – your ‘other’ more recent ‘right-hand man’ ( eg. accompanying you in meetings in Chester etc , an ex Bath Busker now frequenting Stratford upon, I mention his ‘name’ overleaf! ) during a conversation, critical ‘exchange’ of words ( 3 or so weeks ago! ) – described, in characeristic ‘bad-taste, as ”a good man! ”.

        • Apologes its ‘Demi Marriner’ ( not Marinder ) the Busker, the ‘teenage’ girl ‘victimised’ ( harrassed & threatened! ) by Tony Scott!.

          • As for Scott described in ‘some’ quarters ( online! ) as a ” Busker Teacher & Mentor ”, he’s been finally caught & ‘convicted!’.

          • All Folk ( nevermind ‘aspiring’ Buskers ) must learn that there are plenty of insecure & ‘deviant’ People in the world ( out there on the streets! ) who consistently ‘choose’ to unfairly criticise, spitefully smear, & seek to ‘malicously’ undermine others, performers, the public alike, so as to increase their own signifance ( their own sense of importance! ).

            But the desire to sadistically ‘mutilate’ another human-being, psychotically butcher & annihilate them? For a ‘few’ sick minds this has got to be the ultimate way of ‘hiding’ ( if not the ‘only’ way of coming to terms with! ) their more ‘natural’ blemishes.

          • Beware also of the person who simply ‘ignores’ theirs & try’s to get by in this world on a ‘false’ air of natural superiority!. Or indeed the person who does’nt ignore theirs, takes the appropriate ‘corrective’, creative ( i.e. ‘cosmetic’!) action & ‘then’ proceeds to get by in this world on a ‘false’ air of natural superiority!.

          • Finally, most ‘dangerous’ of all, are those often ‘charming’ individuals ( incl. women! ) who ‘appear’ to have come to terms with their ‘natural’ blemishes, but whom on closer observation, closer scrutiny, indeed closer ‘relations’, cleary & often very abrubtly have’nt.

            They can’t ‘healthily’ come to terms with such faults; these ‘amoral’, extremely vain, highly ‘manipulative’ individuals ( natural Actors! ). And for deep ‘structural’ personality reasons’ never could.

            For that reason alone it’s not only wise that they be ‘ignored’, unless you know what you’re doing, they are to be given a wide ‘birth’ i.e. they’re to be totally avoided!.

          • We’ve all got ‘blemishes’ so for me its a case of ‘mind over matter’, thats where the key ‘solution’ can be found & in the important realisation that might is’nt always right!.

          • And the ‘truth’ that indeed you can be loved for who you really are! ( its true you really can! )

          • Of course these concepts are also the clue as to why at the end of the day most ‘woman’ end up ‘marrying’ their ‘fathers’, & I guess to some extent ‘men’ their ‘mother’s!.

          • Or at least someone who closely resembles their Fathers, closely resembles their Mothers!

  • * Petty Tyranny ( & street performing )

    Jonny, I note you as a ‘big gun’ when it comes to fighting some of the ‘key’ forms of petty tyranny Street Performers & Buskers commonly face on the streets.

    The campaign website, the public petitions, the ‘positive’ recruitment of politically ‘conscious’ ( ‘conscientious’ ) ‘celebrities’ like Mark Thomas are serious ‘weapons’ in the fight against unjust ‘dominant’ Council Authorities ( the factory boss ) & ‘oppressive’ town/city wardens ( factory floor supervisers ) who regularly ( well more than they would admit ) display a tendency towards ‘oppression’ ( draconianly so! ) on the streets.

    The issue ‘I’ wish to ‘highlight’ here, concerns that other type of ‘petty tyrant’, found too on the streets and causing much anguish, damage & harm to ‘others’, ie. no stranger to busking, eg the ‘workplace bully’ ( the ‘true’ one! ). This is a problem that simply can’t be overlooked ( lest you become a kind of ‘tyrant’ by proxee yourself ) & speaking from experience eg. family, school, my first job(s) is a real ‘destroyer’ – perhaps one of the key emotional/trauma areas that has particularly ‘affected’ my life!.

    When I ‘meditate’ on this ’emotive’ little topic, what has been for me such a personally troublesome subject matter, I tell you feelings run from attitudes of quiet desparation to the rages ( & violent outburts! ) of a ‘psychotic’ killer!.

    • * New Pathways ( brain ‘neural ones )

      I’m now in the midsts of deep thought, clearing away the emotional ‘debris’ ( hurt pride, indignation & deritas ), reflecting on the ‘journey’ thus far undertaken ( the wasted years! ) & on any possible ( ‘just’ realistic ) pathway(s) to a ‘new’ way!. A ‘new’ me, a new person, a new brain!

      • Nb
        Justice system apart ( note it does’nt work for everyone ) theres got to be a ‘positive’ ( winning! ) alternative response ( incl neural re-wiring ) to being always ‘picked on’, isolated & scapegoated i.e. a life of exclusion. Plus a not uncommon cycle of violence ( albeit psycho/emotional ) finally broken!.

        • * Those Who Live By The Sword….

          Coming to think about it Walker ( in relation to the Scott affair ) it could be time for ‘you’ to ‘ fall on your sword! ‘ like the recent Tory MP Grant Shaps over the bullying scandal of Mark Clarke.

          Yeah, no doubt Clarke had his ‘uses’ managing the parties growing body of zealous activists, his scurrilous activities something about which to keep quiet about.

          But now this scandal is out I think most people would agree, Shaps as a ‘senior’ Tory Minister, a man in a high place of responsibility has finally done the honorable thing!.

          • * Remember

            Jonny if ‘Streetslive’ was indeed a ‘serious’ ( rather than ‘Mickey Mouse’ ) political organisation & with you as the Leader then this is what would be happening right now in the public domain, the Sunday Press would be calling for your head.

            Because if someone like Demi Marriner did not have the good fortune of having a Mother as a ‘Solicitor’ plus the quick wits, ( rescources & know how!) to collect ‘Court’ evidence then who knows what state of mind the poor yg woman might be in now, who knows the ‘full’ consequences of Scotts bullying.

            You know in the world of ‘grown up’ politics this sort of thing has ‘serious’ implications not just for the ‘culprit’ but for the whole organisation to which they belong ( or ‘associate’! ) particularly for those at the top!.

          • * Voices from the Underground

            ” I used to imagine adventures for
            myself, I invented a life, so that
            I could at least exist myself ”
            ( Underground Man – Fyodor
            Dostoevsky )

            I mention above how ‘the insecure man’ ( often whilst carefully, & ‘foxily’ adopting the mask of ‘victim’ himself ) uses ‘smear’ & spite to undermine the other, so as to make himself feel significant.

            Of course another way this ‘type’ makes himself important – in fact its an increasingly common method used by many, in these days of social media – is thru’ straightforward ‘hype’ ( yeah, their very own self-created, in some cases fairly professional ‘media’ hype eg. home blog or video! ).

            I see many ‘echoes’ of the greatest hypster of them all here eg. ‘Leni Riefenstahl’. Whilst she has been regarded by some circles as the greatest film documentary ‘propagandist’ in history, by others she remains the archetypal ‘cheat’ Artist, in some ways ‘creative’ but essentially a lazy ‘cut ‘n paste’ merchant.

            I agree with ( I stand persuaded by! ) the latter view, & thats not just because ‘instinctively’ I know this woman is the embodiment of ‘evil’ but in part because ‘history’ actually back this latter claim up.

            I’ve heard certain wisecrackers ( wise guys, agony aunt types online etc ) espouse as wisdom that ” will beats skill ” ( See Twitter ‘True Facts’ quote by Kevin Constantine ). The truth is, as ‘time’ always shows ”skill beats will ” ( & in the ‘long’ term every time! ). Yeah, skill, ‘know-how’ this is the ‘real’ pathway to personal achivement & ‘genuine’ success.

            You know what the mind does sometimes boggle tho’ & you can’t believe what you see out there in the webisphere.

            Eg. I’ve just taken a peek at one, yeah! street-performers, facebook page, & twitter account, a space emblazoned with Union Jacks ‘n pics of ‘mixed’ black n’ white couples dancing around n’ singing ‘country’ music. Now I know its true, I’m convinced of it, we are now living in a ‘multi-cultural’ fascist state!.

          • Nb

            Of course sometimes the ‘shysters’ ( blog n’ video scammers ) can & do get it right. Honestly & quite skillfully their ‘home’-made ( ‘edited’ ) video’s may even tell the truth, shed a little light, insight even – & quite entertainingly!

          • Ok providing us not with ‘ the greatest show on earth ‘, but funny, ironic videos showing some humor nevertheless. Could this be their saving grace?

          • See Linda Simpson ‘ A Life In Music ‘ Street I Am Blog.

          • No amateur media ‘hatchet’ job this either, a ‘truthful’ work inspired by genius ( or at least some ‘spark’ person out there anyway! )

          • Yeah, some ‘bright’ spark!.

          • ( Nb. Not sure the same could be said tho’ about other related pieces on this blog. For example despite the apparant ‘candidness’ I doubt the veracity of one quite curious ‘moral tale’ presented here too by ‘the writer’. A ‘sister’ blog about how busking & the streets saved ‘him’ from ‘degeneration’!. )

  • * A Public Warning

    Trial over, publicly ( & justly! ) convicted upon evidence, I understand Scott is now back on the streets, tho’ for his own protection I understand he is now going out under an ‘assumed’ identity. So watch out for Mad Tony, Tony Layotta, Tony Morganello & his most recent ‘front ‘, a man, a Busker turning up in small town boroughs, & going by the name of Jonny Johnson!’.

    • * Codes of ‘Good’ Busking Behaviour ( a ‘personal’ response! )

      On a more ‘serious’ note, given this ‘context’ & as for any codes, busking schemes etc claimed to be emanating from you Walker or yer friends, I tell you now, I for one won’t be taking any one of them ‘seriously’, whether devised in conjunction with Councils & Local Authorities or not.

      So keep your ‘laminated’ book of busking rules for yourself & don’t even think of passing one onto me, cos’ if one lands on my lap, I’m either going to tear it up on the spot or burn it!. I don’t want anything at all to do with your ‘vile’ schemes or ‘you’ & your sort, ( vile ‘hypocrites’ ), nor organisations like the Music Union ( cosy n’ middle-class ).

      As for Birmingham City Council this particular authority make me sick ( literally ‘nauseates’ me ), their record speaks for itself, the worst ‘social’ services in the country & a pretty nasty reputation for social exclusion when it comes to ‘political’ process & ‘local’ decisions. So no, I don’t care ‘who’ or what you are, ‘involved’ Buskers or Council Officials stay away from me, I’m not interested in your ‘false’ morality, nor ‘vain’ rules!.

      On the question of your ‘right-hand’ men ( & women ) i.e. ‘campaigners’ in arms, that ”actually frequent places that I tend to busk in such as eg. Stratford upon Avon, I state ‘now’ loud & clear, don’t ever speak to me, don’t come near me unless its to ‘swap’ over spots in line with the ‘genuine’ rational busking practices to be found in that town.

      Bytheway if you do not like the code in places like this, I personally don’t give a damn, do as you will, have it out with the ‘local’ Buskers & authorities but I tell you this what goes around, comes around!

      And finally if any one of you ever think of ‘troubling’ me, intimidating me etc then my ‘response’ will be to further teach you a lesson, yeah teach you a ‘serious’ lesson about bullying you’ll never forget. The bottom line is, somebody like your ‘friend’ Scott, will be going to prison!.

      • * The ‘Ideal’ Busking Constitution!

        The ‘conditions’ have changed of recent in many places across the UK, take Birmingham ( my home town ) where over the last few years, where there were perhaps once 2 or 3 Buskers performing in a city-centre ‘area’ like New Street, today there can be several ( many more! ) Street Performers. I last counted 4 Statutes & 8 Acts as I strolled through this zone, not including the 3 Brass Bands that ‘crop’ up intermittantly in that part of town.

        This is the ‘new’ cultural milieu, the that ‘truly’ reflects the Street Performing heart & soul of the city ( not Walker & his tribe! ) & yes performance ‘standards’ are seriously improved ( Nb. this new socio economic phenomenon is not necessarily a bad thing, a place can be ‘renewed’ & enriched by such a process! ).

        Wonderfully everyone gets on too, ( the likes of me, ‘new’ Romanian Gypsies, some old school Black Buskers, a ‘few’ acoustic singers ) busy & successfully sorting themselves out without the ‘help’ of the local Council nor ‘interference’ of self-proclaimed street Messiah Jonny Walker.

        Yes relations at present are fruitful ( largely due to the ‘presence’ & inclusion of the ‘right’ kind of personalities! ), & long may they be so, & dare I say it long-lasting! – especially now ‘some’ have managed to bring to the surface, identify, bring to account & ‘tame’ one or two of the rogues of the street!.

        As we now enter a very interesting ‘future’ phase (given the ‘reality’ of much current affairs, a ‘parallel’ universe! ) the signs are promising, indeed good, the ‘conditons’ now ripe for the ‘ideal’ political constitution i.e. ‘benevolant’ anarchism ( spontaneously created! )

        • * Xmas Prologue

          In the meantime its Xmas & I’m having lots of fun what with the seasonal merriment approaching its climax & being ‘out’ entertaining folks playing ‘christmas’ tunes n’ everything.

          Also very excited about the week ahead, I’m off to London hopefully to busk on the Southbank via Tooting. Incredibly ‘spots’ are available in this location at this time of year, apparantly there are a ‘few’ local Buskers who’ve decided to take a rest over the ‘public’ holiday.

          Some I hear planning a period of ‘recuperation’ over the next few months & stretching right into the new year. A brief sojourn in the local health spa, Sanitorium, no doubt. Buskings a ‘hard’, tough, stressful job, did’nt you know that! ( *Nb this is a rhetorical question bytheway, no ‘straight’ honest answer required! )

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