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Top earning Tory: ban protests to save money


2:07 pm - July 23rd 2010

by Sunny Hundal    


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Here is Steve O’Connell:

The point I’m making here is in the new era of very difficult financial choices are we able to continue with the luxury of demonstrations going forward in a very liberal manner with a small ‘l’ and commit the costs that we have in the past? I don’t believe we can afford to go forward in that way.

O’Connell is a Tory Assembly Member and former banker who gets paid: £43,861 as a Croydon councillor, £53,439 for sitting on the London Assembly and £21,211 as chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority’s finance and resource committee.

That’s over £118k annually out of the public purse, making him Britain’s highest-paid councillor.

Britain’s second highest paid councillor is also a Conservative. Brian Coleman is on £118,499 a year: £38,177 as a Barnet councillor and cabinet member (up from about £27,000 last year), £53,439 for sitting in the Assembly and £26,883 as chairman of London’s fire service.

Steve O’Connell told the Metropolitan Police Authority (via Adam Bienkov at Tory Troll):

Should we not actually be considering whether we can continue offering the [policing] service to these demonstrations? Should we not have a situation where we get to the stage where if the funding isn’t there to provide the service, we should be having a conversation with the organisers where we say “you cannot have your event because we do not have the resources to fund it”?

In the past controversial plays have had to be shut down because the police did not want to bear the costs of policing the protests.

With Boris increasingly displaying authoritarianism – banning Democracy village and threatening motorcycle protesters – it looks increasingly like the Tories aren’t as enthusiastic about civil liberties as they’ve claimed.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


Why not cut policing costs by using advertising?

“This protest was policed in association with Muller Light, Lick the lid of life!”

Don’t football matches have to pay for the cost of their policing?

@2 – I think the teams do yes.

Wouldnt it be cheaper to just ban popo from protests. At least the fatality rate will drop

5. Nathaniel Simpson

They cancel the play not the protest, so if the don’t wan to police it then they should just give in to the protesters demands…

Steve O’Connell

Should we not actually be considering whether we can continue offering the [policing] service to these demonstrations? Should we not have a situation where we get to the stage where if the funding isn’t there to provide the service, we should be having a conversation with the organisers where we say “you cannot have your event because we do not have the resources to fund it”?The short answer is, “we provide the funding or allow the event to go ahead without it”.

The long answer is, I’d like to know how he reconciles this with our Article 11 right:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

“No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. this article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the State.”

Should we not be having a conversation about how we can save money by not paying people for doing a job during the time they spend doing another job?

You could also save money by not instructing the police to beat the shit out of demonstrators. You then don’t have to spend millions of taxpayers money on the resulting cover up and compensation to those protestors with decent lawyers.

ukliberty, no doubt this is one of those rights they thought was unnecessary when they were talking about getting rid of the human rights act before the election

Maybe enough volunteers will come forward to police protests?

I’ve got some mates who’d love to step in and help keep the peace at EDL marches.

Come to think on it, elections are costly to run too – and court cases to convict recidivist criminals.

Come to think of it, capital punishment is a good deal cheaper than keeping someone in jail for those long, indeterminant sentences. Surely, most will appreciate the fiscal benefits of restoring capital punishment and introducing summary fixed penalty sentencing of all recidivists facing new criminal charges.

From the mayor’s question time ( http://www.london.gov.uk/mqt/public/question.do?id=32180 )

Question by Steve O’Connell
“The Met police went over-budget last year largely due to the high cost of policing protests and a climate camp. Has the Mayor any views on how to stop this unfair cost on tax-payers by either reviewing how protesters protest or how police manage protests?”

Answer by Boris Johnson
“Public protests have been part of British political life for a very long time. The right to protest in public is one of our country’s great iconic freedoms: free assembly and free speech.”

Oh yes you can just smell the brownshirt.

14. Chaise Guevara

“I’ve got some mates who’d love to step in and help keep the peace at EDL marches.”

Ah, yes. Like the UAF, who at EDL and BNP marches are distinguishable from their opponents only by having slightly longer hair.

15. Matt Munro

What annoys me slightly is that policing for protests are publicly funded but for events such as football matches, the clubs (and thus ultimately the fans) have to pay for policing. Why are some “threats to public order” expected to be self-financing, and others, not ?

And before you start sally. yes: farmers, the royals and politicians like his tonyness (jetting around the world and putting his entourage up in 5 star hotels at our expense) should pay for their own security.

@15

Cos football is a private business whereas protests are almost by definition public?

Of course the tories find no problem with this . Everything is about money with these people.

Now only the rich should be allowed to protest. I’m sure the farmers and the hunting brigade can afford to pay for their protests. Actually, the police have no problem with that, or the fuel protests because they support the protesters. That is why they sat back and let the scum block the motorways. You try doing that for on the left and see what happens.

Regards football, Howard gave the police the power to set the kick off times. Outrageous!”!!

Why should the police be allowed to set kick of times and such like. Who voted for plod?

19. Chaise Guevara

@15

There’s a difference between providing a free security service for anyone who wants to hold a large event and protecting freedom of speech, which may well be being exercised by those who cannot afford protection.

20. Matt Munro

Yes football is a private business but so are lots of thing that the public (ab)use – bars don’t get charged for the police having to break up fights do they ?

21. Matt Munro

And who’s Howard ??

22. Matt Munro

@ 19 “There’s a difference between providing a free security service for anyone who wants to hold a large event and protecting freedom of speech, which may well be being exercised by those who cannot afford protection”.

Come on, the G8 protestors were a load of middle class hippies, “protesting” with an i-phone in one hand and a starbucks in the other

@20

Arguably, they do. I mean to run a bar you need to pay for a drinks license which pays for police expenses etc. And if a bar has too much trouble then it risks fines/closure – which is a financial cost, obviously.

(oh and @21 I assume Sally is refering to Michael Howard when he was Home Sec)

25. Matt Munro

I think you’ll find that Sky sports actually set the fixtures and times to suit TV schedules, much to the annoyance of genuine fans who ofen find themselves having to get back from the other end of the country on sunday nights.

Point taken about bars, but football fans pay tax too, as do the clubs.

Councillors get £40k a year?

Blimey. That’s one thing to cut then.

As to protestors having to pay the police….no. The police are the archetype of what is known as a “public good”and thus righteously paid for from taxation.

27. Matt Munro

@ 26 – So why do some sections of the public have to pay for them ?

I think the distinction is (or at least, I think the distinction should be) between profit making and non financial activities. A football match (however much teams actually lose money, they are trying to make it) is imposing an externality on everyone else4 in the pursuit of profit.

The Countryside March (for example) is imposing a similar externality upon everyone else but not in the pursuit of profit, rather in the pursuit of the freedoms of speech and association.

Whether this is actually the distinction made I’m not sure but it looks like a viable one to me. You’re tryint to make money then cough up for the public costs of your doing so. You’re exercising your rights as a citizen then that’s a cost we should all bear.

Holy fuck, I agree with Tim W. Words fail me.


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