This is a dream for the Mail - health and safety, an alleged ban and the alleged persecution of Christians all in one story.
Nick Fagge reports:
Every year the Christians from different churches get together to march a 400-yard route to celebrate Easter.
But this year their Good Friday parade has been banned – because it breaches health and safety laws.
So - it's been banned because of health and safety. That's clear, right?
Well, the statement from Brent Council that inevitably appears at the end of the article suggests it's not quite that clear:
‘Brent Council was not contacted about the march until around a week ago.
‘There is a strict legal procedure we have to follow to issue a traffic order closing roads so people can march in the highway, which includes advertising and consultation, and this takes about five weeks.
‘We are very sorry to say there is now not enough time for us to legally facilitate this march.’
Ah. So the organisers missed a five-week deadline for notifying the Council. Not quite health and safety.
But the parade has been banned, hasn't it?
Last night Brent Council told the worshippers to walk on the pavement.
The man in charge of the parade, Father Hugh MacKenzie, knows the type of quotes that get you in papers such as the Mail, however:
‘The rights of Christians are being overlooked in favour of the rights of Islamic groups and gay rights organisations.
‘One does wonder whether if it was a homosexual rights or Islamic group the council would have been more flexible, as it doesn’t seem like rocket science to permit us to walk 400 metres.
‘The rights of Christians are just not respected in Britain.’
So blame the gays, blame the Muslims, blame health and safety. Don't blame yourself for applying too late for the Council's permission to close the road. And say you can't parade when you can.
The Mail also claims that this parade takes place 'every year' - those are the first two words of the article and they're repeated later in the piece. It appears, however, that the parade last took place in 2008.
A further statement has been issued by Brent Council, emphasising that the parade is definitely not banned from taking place:
Brent Council and the Metropolitan Police have advised and encouraged the organisers of this parade to hold this event as long as they stay on the footpath and the event is stewarded.
We have many other Good Friday Parades happening in Brent including one with twice the number of people and this takes place on the footpath every year avoiding the need for a traffic order.
Traffic orders are there for the safety of the parade participants, the general public and motorists and are needed by any group wanting to take over the highway.
This particular parade has not taken place for around three years.
In the past the police organised the road closures, however, a change in police policy has meant event organisers have to contact their Local Authority five weeks in advance to arrange a road closure.
The application for this parade was received 4 April.
(Hat-tip to Press Not Sorry. Primly Stable has also blogged on this 'ban' here)