Ealing Council Agree To Abortion Clinic 'Buffer Zone'
Council vote unanimously in favour of PSPO which will be in place for three years
Ealing Council’s cabinet members have this evening unanimously voted in favour of a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) or so called 'buffer zone' 100 metres around the Marie Stopes abortion clinic on Mattock Lane.
The zone can be introduced immediately once the five day call in period has passed which would be Monday, 23 April 2018. Once a PSPO is introduced, anyone who breaches the order would be committing a criminal offence and can be fined or prosecuted under the law.
These activities will be subject to several restrictions which will not apply in any areas outside that covered by the PSPO.
They will limit the number of persons within the area to a maximum of 4; prohibit use of any posters, texts or images which are larger than A3 size; prohibit shouting words and messages related to the termination of pregnancy; and prohibit the use of amplified music, voice or audio recordings.
There has been a strong reaction to the decision with local MP Rupa Huq lauding the decision. She said, "I'm proud of the decision of my borough Ealing which will make Mattock Lane which contains the clinic a much more pleasant place to pass than the site of passive aggression it has been of late where the police constantly complain that it is a waste of valuable resource to keep two groups of protestors apart so regularly. This is a great start but this is a national problem that needs a national solution, which is why I will continue in Parliament pushing for new legislation."
Be Here For Me, a campaign group who provide support to mothers who respond to leaflets distributed outside the centre condemned the decision saying testimony from people they have helped was ignored. Clare Mulvany who works with the group said, Clare Mulvany, who supports mothers outside abortion centres said, “A shameless and bone headed decision by the council to criminalise perfectly reasonable behaviour and to outlaw the offering of information & charitable assistance to those who have none. This ban is inimical to civil rights and sets a very dangerous precedent.”
Civil rights groups such as Liberty and the Index on Censorship opposed the move saying such measures could be used to restrict the right to protest. The Index on Censorship said, " Use of buffer zones by a London council to prevent protests has the potential to set a dangerous precedent that could be used against all forms of speech."