“Birmingham City Council is planning a ‘public spaces protection order’ banning all amplification in the city centre.
This will in effect prevent all political protests and rallies, since speakers will be unable to make themselves heard over background urban noise.
If this order goes ahead, Birmingham City Council will be able to issue fixed penalty notices and confiscate equipment from anybody using amplification in the city centre.
A great number of groups will be affected by this order. I am a member of the Friends of the Library of Birmingham Campaign and have lived and worked in Birmingham for nearly 40 years. We held a very successful rally on 13 June, with speeches outside Birmingham Council Chamber. Poets, union members, users of the library service, writers, academics and students were all able to be heard due to amplified sound equipment. Otherwise we could not have been heard. Ironically the statement defending the council’s position was read out to the crowd. Without amplification Cllr Penny Holbrook’s statement couldn’t have been heard! The right to be heard is surely central to any society. This PSPO is draconian and unnecessary. Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Police received only 63 complaints about street speakers and buskers in 2013, and 153 in 2014. This is in a city of a million people.
This ban violates the basic principle that public space is for the free use of the public. Cities should not just be about shopping or getting from A to B, with the only noise to be heard that of building works, traffic and official announcements.
All civil society relies on give and take. Street speakers and musicians all add to the colour of our lives. They inform, they educate and they alert us to proposed curtailment of basic rights. Let us use common sense to resolve these issues. Stop criminalising social interaction and let us get on with living with each other.”
Petition via Change.org against this order.
To quote Benjamin Zephaniah: MAKE SOME NOISE, BIRMINGHAM!