Council Madness

It’s not easy being a Councillor and sometimes we get it wrong. There’ve been some recent examples where, in my personal opinion, inappropriate decisions have been made. Remember earlier this year, a parish council near me became the first in the world to assert a charge for a Park Run being held on their playing field. Yesterday, North Yorkshire became the first to approve Fracking since the ban on it was overturned in 2012. And I’m in receipt of protest emails regarding an injunction in Harlow, Essex, which rather takes the biscuit.

I can understand how the charge on Park Runs came about – there is considerable impact from hundreds of people running on a small track all at once, and costs for remediation of the damage. It’s reasonable to try and recoup these costs, especially when funding from central government and national award schemes is culled in the austerity push. I might not have tackled it the way they did though. I can understand too that Councillors in North Yorkshire might have been under some degree of pressure from central government to allow Fracking, although I suspect for me that would have been a resignation issue. But Harlow…

Harlow have taken out an Injunction to ban groups of more than one motorcycle (other vehicles are included but the stated aim was to stop motorcyclists) riding together across a wide area of the town. It even covers the A414 northbound, and so could conceivably include folk passing through on the trunk road network. And apart from some intensely precarious and discriminatory aspects, all of the Injunction is already covered by existing legislation. Indeed, it makes it a criminal offence punishable by prison to carry out actions required in the Highway Code.

Harlow, you have a problem, and it’s not motorcyclists…

 

 

 

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  1. News from the Motorcycle Acton Group

    MAG makes progress on Harlow injunction

    This version: 2016 08 19 Embargo: Immediate

    The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG), the UK’s leading voice for riders’
    rights, met with representatives of Harlow Council on 16th August in a
    continuing effort to resolve issues over an injunction introduced by the
    Council to stop anti-social behaviour. The injunction included wide
    ranging powers which MAG regarded as disproportionate and discriminatory
    against riders.

    Lembit Öpik, MAG’s Director of Communications & Public Affairs, attended
    the meeting, which he described as intense but productive. ‘Both sides
    were very direct in laying out our positions, and initially it looked
    like there may be an unbridgeable rift. However, everyone kept their
    cool and we eventually identified a pathway which could actually work
    better in the long term interests of the local community, and avoid the
    elements which caused alarm and discontent in the motorcycling
    community. I particularly liked the suggestion of a twin track approach
    – whereby we work with the Council on biker awareness and safety while
    updating the injunction to take this work into account.’

    Lembit believes that Harlow Council is genuinely motivated to seek this
    creative solution. ‘I relate to their desire to prevent anti-social
    behaviour. Some hooligans were on bikes and it’s not MAG”s job to
    defend the indefensible. “Our role is to work intelligently to ensure
    the Council’s commitment to law and order is carried out without
    compromising riders’ rights. We CAN achieve that.’

    Harlow Council’s Head of Governance, Brian Keane, said, ‘we are in no
    way prejudiced against motorcycles. If we can find a way to work this
    through in partnership, that would be best for us.’

    The next meeting is set for September, to establish the campaign and
    changes to the injunction to achieve that, with three possible dates
    under consideration. Lembit adds ‘we’re not out of the woods just yet.
    But the fact we’re still talking and we have formed a strategy with the
    officials is good news. We’re not looking for a victory over the
    Council. We’re looking for a victory with them, so the only losers are
    those who caused the injunction to be introduced in the first place.’

    A full update will appear in the next issue of Network and The Road.

    Contact MAG at 01926 844 064 or central-office@mag-uk.org

    ENDS

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