Keep Calm And Carry On!
Most of you know that I do everything myself. I have no team and I have no funding, I don’t even have the £5000 deposit yet.
Having no team and no funding, limits what I can do to campaign and get the much needed exposure. One of my things has been mini flyers. A small A5 piece of paper that simply states:
“keep politics out of policing” “non-establishment independent candidate Neil Eyre” “@nevmech – Twitter”
I did add an apology to the flyer for the paper under the windscreen.
I have been posting these under windscreen wipers of cars in car parks for weeks, feeling confident that I would reach more people in a faster time than putting leaflets through letter boxes.
Imagine my surprise when I received an email on 25/09/12 from parking services of North Lincs council. The email read as follows:
I write to advise that it is not permitted to post notices on the windscreens of vehicles in car parks.It is against the rules an bylaws of the area.Please be aware that the issue of these leaflets have been noted.
Kind regardsParking Services
I simply won’t accept an email from a person I don’t know telling me to do something without any justification, so I phoned up the council and spoke to the person who sent me the email. No names here. I asked the person what rule/law I had broken. The response:
“I don’t know. There’s a rule that says you can’t put stuff on peoples cars.”
I asked again what rule.
“I don’t know the rules I will have to look them up. I only sent you the email because I was instructed to do so by Simon Driver”
I thanked the person and signed off the call knowing full well that no enquiry was going to be made as to the legality of this order by the council.
I phoned up Simon Drivers office next and got his PA. I read them the email and again was told:
“You can’t put flyers on cars in car parks owned by the council”
Again I asked what rule or law I had broken.
“I don’t know I’ll have to find out for you”
At this point I was really starting to lose my patience. Here was the council. Two departments ordering me to stop putting out my flyers because I was breaking a rule/law that they did not know themselves!
Both departments told me they would get back to me but since I did not believe them as they have previous form of not responding to enquires I felt the need to get the press involved.
I called the news desk at Viking FM and explained to them the situation. They recorded an interview with me which they told me would be broadcast after getting a comment from the council.
I heard nothing back from Viking FM so I called them later that afternoon. They were not going to run the story, which disappointed me, because the council had emailed to them the act of parliament that they believed I was in breach of. This upset me a tad because the council had not bothered to give me the same information
Me – Candidate for the PCC accused of breaking the law but not being shown the law, receiving no information that day.
Random journo – phones and asks for the info and gets it right away.
Knowing this I called the Scunthorpe telegraph. There was still a story here even if Viking FM could not see it. I told them the situation and they said they would get in touch with the council to get their side of the story.
I got an email from the executive’s office on the morning of 26/09/12 which showed the law and its section that I was breaking.
On 15th May 1991 an Order was made under Section 35(1) and Part IV of Schedule 9 of the Road Traffic Regulations Act 1984, with respect to Pay and Display Car Parks. Part of this Order was to prohibit fly posting. Section 25(c) of the Order actually states:
“25. In a parking place no person shall:-
(c) post, affix, place or otherwise leave in a parking place, or on or to any vehicle using a parking place, any leaflet, poster, paper or other similar material which advertises or publicises any goods, articles, services or facilities provided, or to be provided, by that person or by anyone else.”
There was no content to the email other than this which confused me even more now because the Council were showing me a law that had no relevance to my flyer. My flyer was not leaflet advertising or publicising goods or services.
I contacted North Lincs legal services and explained the situation. I asked them if they could explain why the council was trying to legally compel me to follow a rule/law that they did not know themselves. Why is the council sending me a section of the law they tell me I’m breaking when I clearly am not?
They told me they would get back to me.
I then thought I would give Simon Drivers office a call just to give his office notice of what I had done. I was told by his office they would get back to me. Not really believing any of them, as it has been my personal experience that the council is sporadic at best with returning correspondence, I decided that I should give the leader of the council a call. I explained it to her and she too said she would get back to me.
At this point I could do no more so I sat back and waited.
At 11:09 on 27/09/12 hell must have frozen over because I received a phone call from the executive’s office offering apologies for the mistake of telling me I was breaking the law. It was short and really, really, really sweet but before he tried to hang up I asked for the apology in writing. They agreed and here is its content:
To confirm our telephone conversation, after taking further legal advice I can confirm that the flyer you are using does not contravene the order prohibiting fly posting in pay and display car parks.
I apologise for the mistake.
Oh how victory is sweet.
I did not know the law with respect to this issue, but neither did they. They tried to bluff me into ‘doing what I was told’ and it backfired. The lesson here is simple. If the council tell you to do something ask them to show you the law which requires you carry out the order. Its possible they are just trying it on.