Monday, 13 July 2009

Feeling fly? - Not in Camden

An entry on Craig Murray's blog got me thinking today.. it seems that his posters in the Norwich by-election have been taken down under anti-fly posting regulation. Leaving aside the main issue that only his were taken down amongst all the candidates it got me thinking once again about fly-posting. I encountered this issue about four or five months ago when trying to put up posters for an environmental protest. Living in Camden I kind of assumed that there were posters everywhere - it's that kind of place. But I was wrong. As I wandered the streets I realised that there weren't just few posters, there were none. A quick check on the council website told me it was illegal, and that they would be removed within 24 hrs.. (astonishing efficiency for Camden)..

So what's the problem? Well, for a start it makes it difficult to disseminate information in the area. Only those who can pay for expensive billboards have the right to get their propaganda heard. The rest of us must use the internet, which as a rule only gets those already interested. This undermines freedom of speech, stifles dissent and by extension democracy. It is also unfair, why should we be bombarded with images of cosmetics and mobile phones, but not allowed to enjoy concert listings and political controversy. Politicians constantly moan about young people being turned off to politics, but perhaps a bit of local excitement might get them thinking.  

Okay, okay there are probably many people who are glad not to have tatty mouldy posters on every surface. Personally, I used to live in Edinburgh which was covered in posters, and I loved it, but I can understand that would be a concern for some. There must be a happy medium though - perhaps certain areas can be set aside for commercial and non-commercial posters as a compromise....  just a thought.. 

On a related note, this is one of my main concerns with having shopping malls or large integrated shopping areas run by private companies. These companies are then are well within their rights to not only stop you putting up posters, but also handing out flyers, giving speeches, or anything they don't like. Imagine if all our open spaces where clean, commercially run and free from campaigners and crazies.. pretty sad I think, and in the long run, damaging. 

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