Westminster city council proposed byelaw and supporting documents

Lots of people found the earlier post regarding the planned byelaw being put forward by tory controlled Westminster council hard to believe. We’ve had countless emails and comments along the lines of:

“This can’t be true, not even the tories are that bad…”

So, just to make sure no one is left in any doubt, here is the draft byelaw:
Draft Rough Sleeping and Soup Run Byelaw

And here is the map of the area they intend to ban people from giving food to homeless people to survive on:
Draft Rough Sleeping and Soup Run Byelaw Boundary


16 Responses to “Westminster city council proposed byelaw and supporting documents”

  1. All governments make stupid decisions. Tory, Labour, Libdem. You know why? Because they are run by people. People with ideas above their heads and with intentions far beyond their capabilities. So to say that the state makes the best decisions and therefore the state must be all powerful is just plain wrong.

    What’s wrong with this law? Well as with anything that is area specific, like CCTV, the problem will just move elsewhere. Maybe that was the aim of the law, but I doubt it. And it so easy to circumvent. Ask down and outs to pay 1p for their food and refreshments – it’s no longer free. Are the council then going to impose a minimum price for food and drink? Alternatively get the D&Os to run for their food so effectively a sporting event. But then you see the clause where the council or health authority can do it for public health reasons (which feeding starving people is, otherwise they would die) – sounds like they want to corner the feeding of D&Os for themselves away from other charities; maybe they can get a grant to help them perform this health benefit.

  2. Craig says:

    It is however not illegal to sell refreshments at an extremely low price. Possibly you need a trading licence but every restaurant has one so just do it under the name of a friendly restaurant.

    It is also not illegal to distribute money. Yet.

    So, lets see a two phase queue for the homeless. Stage 1 is where you give them a donation of 1p each, and Stage 2 is where they buy refreshments for (yes, you saw it coming) 1p.

    And of course, they have free will, and can choose not to buy the refreshments and walk off with your 1p, which de-links the donation from the sales of refreshments.

  3. Rebecca Anderson says:

    Are Westminster intending to just move homeless people on to area outside the boundary or have them arrested. I seem to recall Westminster council being one of the most enthusiastic to sell off social housing.

  4. Craig says:

    Sorry, I must say more…

    Clause 4(2) is wonderful.
    “No person shall knowingly permit any person to distribute any free refreshment in or on any public place. ”

    So, you phone, fax or mail every Tory councillor to tell them you are going to distribute free food in Howick Place, just across from City Hall, in 5 minutes time.
    They then all have to phone the police, or they each are guilty of not taking steps to prevent you doing it.

    You just stand there waiting. Be careful to not have any food on you – no point being charged with food distribution. If the police don’t pitch up, you lay a charge against the councillors for knowing about free food distribution but not taking steps to stop you.

    Its beautiful. I love Catch 22′ing the bureaucracy.

  5. Craig says:

    And more…
    Sorry, I should only have one crack at this, but it is such a loophole I have a moral duty to chip in again.

    They forgot to say ‘within’ the red line – read it carefully and you’ll agree. So the area that applies is ambiguous. The red line is perfectly described, and it perfectly defines two areas. One is the area within itself, which is what they meant to say, and the other is the annular area without (outside) itself – all the space between the red line and the end of their jurisdiction.

    Laws, other than the common kind, need to be precise, and this one isn’t. I would say it is unenforceable.

  6. Chrispen says:

    So no water for the marathon runners then, or communion wine and wafers in churches, or crusts for the birds.

  7. John Robson says:

    It’s all about shifting the problem elsewhere away from the nice little Tory area.

    It could only possibly work if applied on a national level.

    How on earth is a homeless person supposed to pay a fine anyway?

  8. Chrispen says:

    After reading the details I see that marathon runners and other people taking part in sports are exempt. I suggest a new interpretation of “soup run” followed by “throwing the sandwich” and “muffin volleyball”.

  9. Absurd and unenforceable, yet thoroughly nasty. I go with Craig – excellent suggestions. Get Mark Thomas on board and make the C-22s a regular event.

  10. Lucien says:

    A proposed byelaw? How does this become enforced? A vote?

  11. Newbunkle says:

    Regarding the free food, does bartering count? What about one pebble for a cup of tea, two pebbles for a sandwich? etc.

  12. jim says:

    interesting that lying down is also to be banned, not lying down with the intention to sleep, just lying down. so no lying down in the sun,
    am i allowed to share some salad with friends?
    how does all this fit with the big society?

    loopholes are numerous…as long as its not free, a lock of hair, some string, a song, a dance..anything,

    interesting that westminster dont seem to want to take their duty to house people as seriously.

    shameful piece of kneejerk legislation.

  13. David says:

    So, are they going to prosecute a mother pushing a pram with a sleeping child in through that zone? What about me giving a drink to my children?

    Whilst there is a reasonable intent (in the terms of being able to find a reason, not in terms of acceptability), the bylaw proposal is so stupidly worded that it is ridiculous.

    ..d

  14. Neil says:

    you are moaning about how it is worded or what loopholes apply? OMG you should all be voicing your outrage that these people could even think of making such a law in the first place. Surely our humanity should be measured by how we look after those less fortunate than ourselves. The fact that this council is purposely making a law that makes compassion and charity illegal on its streets just goes to show how at best they are totally disconnected from reality or at worst they are pure evil incarnate.

  15. Sorry to Complain, but... says:

    Good information to know, guys, but whoever runs this site needs to law off the Flash and worthless Scribd usage (I hope they’re paying you for the free advert for their services). Flash is for web designers who can’t use more efficient methods, ESPECIALLY when you’re not even showing an animation or video… How am I supposed to view this on my mobile phone that doesn’t support flash? If you need it spelling out to you… for the image of the boundary: open a pdf (I assume the map file at least, was a pdf), find that lovely ‘PrtSc’ (Print Screen) key on your keyboard, press it once the pdf is showing the whole image (e.g. in full-screen view mode), then open an image editor and choose ‘paste’. Then save as a jpg, confirm the quality is acceptable, and integrate into your website using vastly less computational resources than that rubbish flash Scribd bloatware.
    For the pdf of the bylaw’s wording – can’t you export it as text, so that a search engine can index it on this site, so that it again takes less resources to view, doesn’t need an external site that hooks-into an adserver, etc etc?
    The above, including learning how to do it, should take five minutes, not a lot to ask and just be aware – not everyone has Daddy’s latest Core i7-based computer to play with, and the more people who can view this, the better, no?
    Since I happened to be on my (old) laptop when I saw this, now I know to come down and help-out, so it’s not all negative, but people really REALLY need to learn how to design stuff properly, look around at the rubbish that saps your time and money without performing due to complacency and lack of pride… bankers and politicians are only the OBVIOUS side of this!!

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