Council accused of discrimination as it seeks to ban republican "not the royal wedding" street party11th Apr 2011
Camden Council has been accused of discrimination on the grounds of political belief after seeking to ban a republican street party, despite previous confirmation that the event could go ahead. The campaign group Republic, who have organised the party, have vowed to fight the decision.
Camden initially gave the go ahead in March for Earlham Street in Covent Garden to be the site of Republic's party. But with just three weeks to go the Council has refused to provide a temporary traffic order to close Earlham Street, effectively banning the event altogether.
Unusually the decision was taken at the level of senior management, with Sam Monck, Assistant Director of Environment and Transport, citing local opposition as the reason for the ban. The ban has the apparent support of Labour councillor Sue Vincent, Executive Member for the department.
Police and the council had confirmed as late as Tuesday that they had no problem with the nature of the event and were happy that there were no public safety concerns.
Reacting to the news Republic's Executive Officer Graham Smith vowed the party would go ahead:
"This is a disgraceful attack on the rights of republicans to make their voice heard and to hold a fun and peaceful event. Camden Council is allowing a few vocal residents and businesses to veto any event in central London they do not support."
"Our street party is designed to be a peaceful, fun, family event with food, music and stalls. The police, local businesses and the council's own staff have been fully supportive of our plans. We can only assume this is a politically motivated ban and we will challenge it all the way."
"In an earlier email the council said any party should seek to 'draw the community together in an act of celebration/oneness' and that 'it is very likely that this event is not, or would not be, supported by the majority of the community'. Camden Council is essentially saying that, as a political minority, republicans have no right to be heard."
"We are now taking legal advice to see if we can overturn this decision in the courts."
"We will also be taking this matter further with the council, we do not accept that this is a legitimate decision. Senior management moved the goal posts at the last minute and took the decision out of the hands of the officers usually tasked with authorising road closures."
"We chose early on to hold a fun party rather than a protest, now Camden Council is seeking to silence and marginalise us without any legitimate reason. We will do all we can to ensure our event will go ahead and we will be challenging this decision."
Republic's alternative street party has been organised to raise a legitimate voice of dissent against the avalanche of royal wedding hype and to provide a place for republicans to show their support for the cause in a fun and positive way. Full details of the street party can be found at www.republic.org.uk/What we do/Republic Campaigns/Royal wedding/index.php.
On March 4th Republic received an email from Camden council which stated: "I can confirm that ... we have had replies from all consultees and these have been positive for your event. I could therefore confirm that as discussed your event can proceed."
For further comment, and to see correspondence between Camden Council and Republic, please contact Graham Smith on 07747 608 770 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Republic is considering legal action against Camden Council and is awaiting formal legal advice.