Localism, or mob rule supported by the police?

10 Dec

Localism, the new coalition policy, is about allowing local people more say on what happens in their local area. The government’s plain English guide to Localism explains that “Instead of local people being told what to do, the Government thinks that local communities should have genuine opportunities to influence the future of the places where they live” (page 11). By contrast, mob rule (or, it give it it’s official name Ochlocracy) is a form of government where a vocal and intimidating group impose their will on a community. The Wikipedia article on Ochlocracy defines it as “government by mob or a mass of people, or the intimidation of legitimate authorities“. I note this recent article in the Financial Times on the risks of mob rule titled “Risk on the rise as political leaders give in to mob rule” showing how the current banking mess could descend into something very scary.

So.. when the police explained to me that they were not giving the owner of these vehicles pictured below a ticket because a number of people in the area didn’t want them to were they acting in the spirit of localism, were they being intimidated into not performing their legal duties or were they just being pragmatic? Is it the police’s job choose where to apply the law and where not? Before deciding not to put a ticket on the vehicles did the police do diligent door to door inquiries to see if there were any disabled people or old people who would like to get out safely, or children, or parents who walk to school but find the parking in the area just too difficult? I am sure they didn’t. The police do however have a newspaper cutting of the April 1 event we staged on the same street highlighting the difficulties that parents with young children have using the pavement  on their noticeboard which they take round schools. It seems hard to square that with allowing 100% blockage of the pavement because a few neighbours want it.

Fyi, these vehicles are breaking numerous very clear laws – in particular parking against the flow of traffic at night and parking at night without sidelights (a special rule for commercial vehicles over 1525kg curb weight) – and these streets are unlit between midnight and 5am. There are also the harder to prove offenses of ‘driving on the pavement’ and ‘causing an obstruction’.

R+J Windows and Debbage and Tubby (uPVC windows etc)

Total blockage

Everest Windows, same spot and I understand also the same driver

Another older view of R+J Windows

4 Responses to “Localism, or mob rule supported by the police?”

  1. simonnurse December 10, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

    Good article.

    Just a thought though; perhaps police procedure, time constraints and malaise were the true reasons? Who knows. ‘Localism’ does appear to offer a fantastic opportunity to hide behind a guideline. I wonder if the Police also have to produce evidence that their decisions are indeed based on a majority local view? The more you explore the concept, the less practical it appears.

    About two weeks ago I asked the driver of a heavy goods vehicle to move it after a young mum had to push her pram into oncoming traffic. The vehicle was fully parked on the pavement and was a 28tk lorry. He only moved it after I took a photo of his license plate.

    • Peter Miller December 10, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

      I think it is simply that the police know that they can’t police laws that are neither obeyed by the great majority of citizens nor supported by legislators or the judiciary. Given that everyone currently has their fingers in their ears pretending that things are just fine I can see why the police are ignoring the issue. Fyi, I will be reporting in due course about a lorry parked up on the pavement in very similar circumstances in Ipswich, although in this case he was also parked in the controlled zone of a crossing – I took images and video on my phone and sent them to the police who seem to be proceeding with a prosecution. Will update when I know the outcome, until then I won’t be putting any details up, but it is encouraging that a single witness and a bit of video seems to be enough for a charge to be brought.

  2. Graham Martin-Royle December 11, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    The police are supposed to apply all laws, equally and fairly, it is not their role to decide which laws should/should not be enforced. There are local by-laws that can be introduced that can introduce this element of “localism”. These should be thoroughly debated by the local authorities and should not just be introduced to appease a local prejudice.

  3. livinginabox December 14, 2011 at 10:42 pm #

    Perhaps a letter to the Chief Constable about which Laws are not enforced or considered unenforceable by the Police might work wonders.

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