Monday, 30 March 2015

By Laws

The Manifesto Club have scored a first today - by persuading both the Mail and the Indie to bite on the same tedious and inaccurate press release, each paper printing almost identical stories. HERE and HERE.

In fact, local by-laws are often the only answer to a particular nuisance. The Libertarian test - whether one person's actions have an adverse effect on others, and if so, if the effect is disproportionate, there is justification in restricting the actions - apply pretty much to by laws. You can't make by laws banning pink, or making beards compulsory. By laws aren't about tastes, as Manifesto would have it, but about local nuisances not covered by existing national laws. 

For example, lycra boy-racers are cycling furiously through a shopping precinct. Everyone's fed up with it, and fearful for kids and the elderly. The police say they can't act because it isn't a public highway, and the council's security guards have no powers to stop cyclists and have been abused in the past by the pedal louts. There are three things you can do; erect traps and barriers to make all cycling impossible but also making buggy and wheelchair access very difficult, enact a new national law banning all cycling in all shopping precincts, or enact a local by law making furious cycling in the Blogsworth Centre illegal. Which is the least intrusive of the three?

As a Localist, I want more, rather than fewer, local variations to the law. Local magistrates used to be sensitive to varying the penalties for statutory offences in accordance with local custom; drunkenness in  Frinton would cost you £50 but drunkenness in Yarmouth only £5. Manifesto are a Statist, centralist pressure group who want the socialist solution under which one size fits all - the same solution is applied everywhere, like a cudgel, rather than specifically, like a scalpel. 

They offer as an example the following;

"Oxford City Council has passed a PSPO prohibiting people under the age of 21 from entering a tower block, unless they are legally resident in the block or visiting a legal resident."

Uhm, yes - tower block stairwells are frequently misused for drug dealing, drug taking, prostitution, sex, as toilets, covered in vomit, broken glass or with passed-out crackheads. I imagine if you lived in such a tower block, you'd welcome any measure that tackled these particular nuisances - after years of the police telling you they could do nothing about it, and the council having tried locks, cameras and wardens without any effect. Do Manifesto really  want to condemn the poor sods living in such conditions to fear, helplessness and inaction? Perhaps they do.


Anonymous said...

"Oxford City Council has passed a PSPO prohibiting people under the age of 21 from entering a tower block, unless they are legally resident in the block or visiting a legal resident."

I am surprised that you state that tower blocks can no longer be used as toilets. I always thought they were designed that way.

G. Tingey said...

Actaully, thewre's an even simpler way.
Put in entryphones & PAY a concierge.

Of all boroughs, LBWF have done this to two refurbiushed tower blocks & everyone is happy - it worked....

Dave_G said...

Bylaws are like tax laws - too numerous, indecipherable and (for many) unenforceable.

To be understood they would require local signage to advertise the fact and 'policing' to enforce it.

Greg's solution places the power where it belongs - with the people and not the authorities.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, GT, indeed. It's finally got through the thick heads of architects and town planners that high rise living is for the very rich, not the very poor, as the former can pay for the private security and concierge to keep the place safe and secure; that can pay for the upkeep; can pay for the non-gas heating and/or aircon; don't have many children etc etc etc.