Friday, 15 April 2011

Did 'elf 'n' safety' ban an Easter parade?

The Mail claims:

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)


  1. If this were the 1950s:

    ‘The rights of Christians are being overlooked in favour of the rights of Jewish groups and coloured rights organisations.

    ‘One does wonder whether if it was a coloured rights or Jewish group the council would have been more flexible, as it doesn’t seem like rocket science to permit us to walk 400 metres.'

    One day these w***ers will get their come-uppance.

  2. EPM (recovering Catholic)15 April 2011 at 19:34

    So, leaving aside the depressing paranoia about THEM MUSLIMS/GAYS getting beneficial treatment, what we have here is a bunch of Christians complaining that Brent Council are beholden to, and hiding behind, a completely arbitrary set of written rules?

  3. "One does wonder whether if it was a homosexual rights or Islamic group the council would have been more flexible"


  4. Father Mackenzie, feigning outrage so he can appear in the mail......Oh what a fail.

    IIIIiiii LOOK AT ALL THE LONeeeely peeeople.....

    Sorry, couldn't resist.

  5. I remember seeing the headline, so I quickly went to the end of the article to read the usual final quote that tells the true story, and sure enough, the council have done nothing wrong.

  6. I don't think the rules are arbitrary at all. There has to be a considerable amount of planning before such a march can take place. The distance or time it is shut for are both irrelevant.

    If the council close a road then the shops and businesses on that road need to know that is going to happen and prepare for it, perhaps even have a say in the matter. The people who live on that road need to be told well in advance so that they can plan alternative routes, not to mention all the traffic they have to divert and any work planned for the time of the march too.

    The council have done nothing wrong here and if the organisers of this *not annual* event can't be bothered to stick to the rules then they will suffer.

    Compare this to the decision of Camden council who are banning a republican street party on the day of the wedding, which is arbitrary and even goes against the orders of the Prime Minister to allow any street parties to go ahead unaffected.

  7. It is health and safety, but it doesn't seem unreasonable. 5 weeks gives the council the time to let residents know that there is going to be a road closure so that they can adapt to it.

    The Mail portrays health and safety as a bad thing, and it can be when it genuinely gets taken to far. I just don't believe, unlike the Mail, that this is true in this case, or many of the others they have reported.

    Also, where do gays and muslims come into it? Are they marching on the same day? If they are, did they also put their application in 3 weeks late? Or is this just a case of total bulls***?

  8. As a (relative) local, I can only add that Willesden had a parade last month for that well-known Muslim festival, St. Patrick's Day.

  9. The Mail also suggested that the parade was an annual event yet when the priest posted a comment on the Evening Standard web-site the priest says the event hasn't actually taken place since 2008. The priest was also unhappy about having to pay £3000 to have the road closed and wanted the council to be more flexible.

  10. The reason for having to notify the local council IS a H&S issue. The state thinks that roads have to be closed for the safety of marchers. Otherwise the law is just there to make marches and demonstrations more difficult to organise, and surely no government would do that! The law is there purportedly for H&S reasons. Unless you've another explanation for the legislation?

  11. Bigoted mail mis reporting again.
    Stick to writing mein kampf

  12. I just want to say - I love your blog.

  13. Your readers may wish to read the following account, untainted as it is by the wicked Daily Mail:

  14. @reallyoldhippy The road closures could be construed as a H&S measure but the application isn't. The 5 weeks is there so the council can implement any safety measures required, inform business so they can make necessary arrangements, inform the public that teh roads will be closed etc. etc. so no, the notification isn't a H&S issue. Also, the headline says that H&S banned the parade. There is no ban. Therefore I call bu****it.

  15. The thing about this is that, long after the truth of refusal and the Council's explanation are forgotten, it will be used ad nauseum as another example of "Christian persecution" rather like the nonsense that you hear every December about Winterval.

    "...and an Easter festival was banned but they let the gay pride march go ahead..." etc etc.

  16. Sorry to dive onto this old story, but from this week's paper:

    They had the march on the pavement anyway, everyone enjoyed themselves.
    The Reverend Colin Patterson, from St Andrew's C of E, said: "However, we think it worked out well in the end. There are no hard feelings against the council for its decision..."

    Mind you, I'm sure this update has been featured prominently in all the papers anyway, hasn't it?


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