End this 'catastrophic' ban on flyers

Al Murray backs campaign

Al Murray is backing a campaign to relax laws on leafletting said to have a ‘catastrophic’ effect on comedy clubs.

He is one of 100 signatories to a letter calling for a change in the law that is said to be driving arts festivals and music venues out of business.

About a third of councils take advantage of a clause in the 2005 Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act to restrict the handing out of flyers.

The law allows local authorities to designate areas where leaflets are are causing problems and impose charges that could run to hundreds of pounds a day.

A letter to today’s Daily Telegraph says: ‘These rules have been catastrophic for local organisations such as theatres, village halls, comedy clubs and small nightclubs, which rely on leafleting to build an audience but cannot afford such fees.

‘A flyer ban in Leicester Square caused the collapse of several comedy nights. One Women’s Institute was threatened with a fine for handing out leaflets about its art exhibition. Oxford student societies were asked to pay £100 a month for leafleting. ‘Leafleting is a key civic freedom, with a long tradition in this country, and should not be restricted without good reason. Litter can be dealt with through the proper provision of litter bins and other common-sense measures, rather than restrictions on people’s rights to use public space.’

Others who signed the letter included comedian Simon Evans, large-scale promoter Harvey Goldsmith, and Geoff Rowe of the Leicester Comedy Festival.

Two years ago, Chortle reported how Central London comedy clubs feared an over-zealous clampdown on flyering could be putting their businesses at risk.

The new campaign was organised by Liberal Democrat peer Lord Clement-Jones, of the Manifesto Group, who said the law already exempts political and religious groups and charities – and plans a Private Members Bill to extend that to small-scare arts events.

Other signatories from the world of comedy include David Mulholland and Kevin King of the Soho Comedy Club and comedians Timandra Harkness and Miriam Elia.

Published: 14 Nov 2012

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