Friday 20 April 2012

Now Brent Council says campaigns would be exempted from Leaflet Licence scheme

Following my urgent enquiry about the proposed controls on leafleting in designated areas of the borough I have received a clarification from Michael Read, Assistant Director Environment and Protection, for Brent Council. I had asked: Could you clarify that for 'political purposes' would cover groups giving out literature with 'political'  (but non-party political) content such as anti-cuts campaigns, library campaigns etc -  so they would be exempted.

He says:

I am sorry for the delay in replying.  The exemptions including that for political purposes are not at the Council’s discretion.  They are included in the primary legislation which says:
(4)Nothing in this paragraph applies to the distribution of printed matter—
(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.’

Whilst the interpretation of the wording would ultimately be a matter for the courts, the council’s view is that the kind of issues you mention would fall within the definition of “political purposes”, would benefit from the exemption and would not need a licence.

The Brent Council press office had told the Willesden and Brent Times that the exemption applied only to 'charities, religious organisations or political parties'  (my emphasis)

This still leaves the issue of small businesses wanting to leaflet a shopping street to drum up business, such as the Windows on Willesden shops that the Council have publicised. As a Green I want to support small local businesses and recognise that the costs of a licence could be prohibitive for such start-up businesses.

Yes, litter is a problem, but so is maintaining the vibrancy of our streets and our local culture. As it is still not clear how these proposals would be enforced and by whom, I would suggest that the whole thing should be dropped.


Gaynor said...

Martin, you do such a sterling job following all this up. It's not only Brent doing this, of course but I only became aware of the new powers after the Times highlighted it.

Martin Francis said...

Thanks Gaynor

The Local Don said...

Does a local business CAMPAIGNING to drum up business in order to pay its business rates, rent and local council tax at their local residence to those selling licenses? Those ADVERTISING the need to having a license only happens to be the same council you pay business rates and council tax to?

If you dont have a license they'll issue you with a fine and sell you a license at the same time. I wonder how you'll pay the fine when you have no customers. Maybe you could borrow money from an unlicensed money lender? or perhaps a licensed one?

It's got nothing to do with money and everything to do with the environment.

The Local Don.