The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act, which gained Royal Assent earlier this year, will prohibit people from camping in gardens and pavement in the middle of Parliament Square. While I fully support the important right to protest, removing this long standing camp will make it possible for other people to use the Square for recreation and protest.
Westminster City Council is proposing additional action to deal with encampments in the area around parliament. The Act covers the central island in the Square but to ensure that camps do not simply move elsewhere in the vicinity, the Council is proposing to introduce byelaws that will prohibit camping in the area around parliament. These byelaws will allow people to protest and carry out their business as normal but will ensure that the public and the local amenity are not affected by anti-social encampments. They are currently carrying out a consultation on the proposed byelaws which you can contribute to by clicking
Why do we need this byelaw?
There are three main reasons the Council believes the new measures are necessary:
1. To make sure that the existing encampment does not move elsewhere in the area, and to prevent new encampments being established.
2. To safeguard the historic environment of the Parliament Square area, and to ensure that the pavements in this area can be kept clear for pedestrians.
3. To tackle noise nuisance across the city more effectively by allowing the Council to seize equipment which is being used to disturb others in public places.
What happens next?
8 December – 13th January – Council consultation on the byelaw. This is a non-statutory process which enables you to propose adjustments or amendments to the byelaw.
19th January – the proposed byelaw, with any amendments, and the details of the consultation will be considered by a General Purposes Committee, which they may recommend that the Full Council make the byelaws.
25th January – if it is approved by the committee, the byelaw will be considered by a meeting of the Full Council and the Full Council may make the byelaws.
Early February – If the Council agrees the byelaw, the Secretary of State will be asked to approve the byelaw. The public will have a further opportunity to send their comments to the Secretary of State, who must consider them before taking a final decision after at least a month.
Early March – The Secretary of State can approve the byelaws for Westminster to begin enforcement.