HOUSE OF COMMONS
MINUTES OF EVIDENCE
taken before the
Mr David Curry, in the Chair
David T C Davies
Mr David Drew
Ordered: that Counsel and Parties be called in.
MR PATRICK CLARKSON QC appeared on behalf of the Promoter.
SHARPE PRITCHARD appeared as Agent.
The Petition of MR JAMES WORONIECKI.
The Petitioner appeared in person.
1. CHAIRMAN: We intend to sit until 11:30, or perhaps just after, if they think we may be able to conclude before Prime Minister's Questions; if we cannot, we will resume immediately afterwards at about a quarter to one and hope to conclude the business by two. If we cannot do that, then we will have to come back again, but we indicate that we hope everybody will be as concise as possible without leaving out any of the evidence of their case. We are going to hear from the Promoters of the Bill, then there is a Petitioner against it and then we will relate any questions. Mr Clarkson, you are going to introduce for the Promoters.
2. MR CLARKSON: Yes, sir, if I may. May I go through the formalities as to who we are. I appear for the Promoters, Mr Woroniecki is the only Petitioner who prevails, so to speak, and I act for Westminster City Council and the Association of London Government.
3. From time to time, as I am sure the Committee is aware, the London authorities bring forward private legislation to deal with matters germane to London. There is a number of matters in a large conurbation like this that need addressing and this is the ninth bill brought forward. This is the formality: each London borough has to pass a resolution in support of the promotion of the Bill both before and after the Bill is deposited. Westminster City Council acts as lead authority for obvious logistical reasons. They pass a resolution under section 239 of the Local Government Act 1972 and the other councils pass their resolutions under section 87 of the London Local Government Act 1985. All 33 London boroughs, including the City Corporation, have signed up. Some elements will affect all of them and some are particular to an individual borough. The last formality is this: there is a requirement that, as promoters of private bills, we include on the face of the bill a statement about the compatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights, and we do so at page 18 of the explanatory memorandum that I need not pass the Committee's time on, as I say, it is a formality. There is also a requirement under Standing Orders that a minister must make a report on the promoters' statement of compatibility. That has been done, and the Minister for Housing and Planning, and the Minister for London have said that the three areas are no longer germane; he considered it was compatible with the ECHR.
4. Now the Bill in brief and I have no more than a sentence. It contains a wide-ranging number of provisions divided into six discrete parts. The only live matter for the Committee is part two on page three. It concerns portable advertising. I beg your pardon, it is page five, portable advertisements. All I really need do by way of opening is invite the Committee to glance at the front page of the bundle of photographs that we have raised and placed, I hope, before each member of the Committee. You have a June 2007 photograph on the front page and that is a cameo of the rest of the photographs setting out what it is that the Promoters are seeking to control. The way they seek to control it is at clause 5(1) on page five of the Bill, "No portable advertisement may be displayed within a designated area, except in accordance with subsection (2) below". If you go over the page to page six and (10), portable advertisement is defined: "means any thing which is capable of being held or carried and which is an advertisement as defined in section 336 (1) of the Planning Act but as if for "wholly or partly" there were substituted "wholly or mainly". I think it is useful if I just read out what "advertisement" means in the Planning Act and it just really requires the Committee to get an understanding of the flavour of it. "Advertisement" means: "any word, letter, model, sign, placard, board, notice, awning, blind, device or representation, whether illuminated or not, in the nature of and employed wholly" - or "partly" it says in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and we are changing that to "mainly" and I will explain why - "for the purpose of advertisement, announcement or direction, et cetera". The definition that I have read out in the Bill substitutes "wholly or partly" with "wholly or mainly" for the purpose of advertisement. The reason for that is there was a concern as to whether such as T-shirts or shopping bags would be caught by this proposed provision. In the circumstances where they were ascribed as advertisements would be avoided if they were not mainly worn for advertising or mainly carried for advertising. As was said in the other place, if a T-shirt is worn for warmth or modesty, it is not worn for advertising, so that is how we have avoided that snag.
5. Thereafter, the short introduction can continue in this way, on page five (4), this is the offence: "Any person who - (a) displays a portable advertisement ... or (b) causes or permits any person so to do, shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4", that is maximum of £2,500. That is important. The person who is displaying the portable advertisement is guilty of an offence but also the person who causes or permits, so the person who is the beneficiary of it, so to speak, a business can be caught. The approach is set in clause 6, "A borough council may designate" an area where this part would apply. 6(1), it could be a "public off-street car park, recreation ground, garden, park, pleasure ground or open place under the management or control of a borough council" or it could be "a street or way to which the public commonly have access, whether or not as of right". The way the Promoters perceive this is that there are hot spots, so to speak. Mr Chatten, who is the Promoters' witness, will explain it. There are hot spots where there is a problem of a plethora of such signs that are causing obstruction and visual nuisance, so to speak. There is no way whatsoever, is the Promoters' case, that ordinary advertisement consents would be granted if these objects were mounted on buildings. What this is is an approach that will plug the device of portable advertisements so that the usual advertising regulations are not avoided. For the vast majority of London, we anticipate, will not be ascribed designated areas, so it is just these particular areas. Westminster is the vehicle to explain the issue, but there may be other authorities close to central London that have the same issue.
6. The Petition of Mr Woroniecki, I hope the Committee has that. If I can summarise where the issues lie between us, and this is the last point I have in opening. Does the Committee have the evidence? Yes. Paragraph six is perhaps is the beginnings of it. He says that portable advertisements of the principle form of advertising for comedy nights run by the Petitioner and without the ability to use such advertisements, most of the comedy nights he runs will shut down. Any other comedy nights, at which the Petitioner occasionally performs also use such advertising. That last sentence is certainly correct. It is the Promoters' case that there are other forms of advertising used by the theatre world and, indeed, it is a perception of the Promoters that this is a substantial recent increase in portable advertising, and the Committee may have noticed themselves. Previous to that, comedy clubs or the like existed without such requirements.
7. Paragraph eight, summarising it, the third line, the placards used by this retailer act, in effect, as a large labelled arrow re-directing customers to the retailer's premises and are very large luminous yellow signs. In stark contrast, the signs used by the Petitioner's comedy club are used to reduce a more tightly focused impact of advertising on the general public and not to increase it. They are small black and white placards and the individuals holding them can offer information on comedy nights, et cetera. In previous years other comedy clubs have used the technique of actively approaching members of the public to offer them flyers. The use of placards allows the promotion of comedy nights to be more discreet, better targeted, more passive and greater in economic terms. However, communications with Westminster Council indicate that they do not intend to discriminate between forms of portable advertisements but rather regard them as something to be removed. That is absolutely correct, it is the Promoters generally, not just Westminster City Council. You will see with Mr Chatten that there is no significant distinction between the quality or scale of the portable advertisements and, indeed, it perhaps would be invidious in some way to seek to try and have some that are allowed and others not allowed, and all sorts of bureaucratic nonsense would emerge.
8. Nine, portable advertisements are a cheap form of advertising, easily accessible to small businesses unable to afford expensive print adverts in prime locations. The logging for clauses 5 and 6 to be included in this Bill came from large businesses which can afford more expensive forms of advertising. The Petitioner contends that one effect of the clause is to further the competitive advantage of large businesses over small ones, but that is simply not accepted. Westminster Council is saying it wishes to dramatically increase the number of film premiers in Leicester Square. These frequently entail highly garish and very large forms of advertising, substantially more garish and substantially larger than comedy placards, which the Council has communicated its intention to ban in exactly same area. It is inappropriate to discriminate against one business or art form and another on the basis that one seems more glamorous. That is not wholly fair. Erected permanent or quasi‑permanent signs require consent; portable advertisements do not.
9. The West End, this is 11, in Soho is a vibrant area which visitors expect to contain a great diversity of commerce and art forms. Live alternative comedy is a new modernist art form, one of which originally was created in Soho. The youth and subversive nature of the form means it is not held in high regard. I am not sure that is a fair comment, but I do not think the Committee need decide on that. However, the loss would be cultural as well as commercial were the number of comedy nights in London to be greatly reduced by an attempt to sanitise the West End and so the Petitioner asks that clauses 5 and 6 should not be allowed to pass into law.
10. Just for the record, I made one mistake already: the Association of London Government is now called "The London Councils".
11. I hope the Committee has or will have these, the schedule of amendments. Two areas I would just flesh out, one arising from the clauses apart. It is clause 5, page six, a re-definition of "display". Display was rather dryly expressed as meaning "display ... in the course of a business" until it has been changed. Now it is been changed: "the 'display' of an advertisement means (subject to subsection (11) below) the display of the advertisement in the course of a business by means of an individual or individuals holding or carrying it or otherwise having control of it in person at the place where it is located". Emphasis on the word "in person", so it is the person there in charge of it either actively or passively who is displaying it.
12. There is a point also that I should emphasise finally to the Committee and that is clause 6(2). These are the circumstances which councils will designate: "The council shall exercise their powers under this section only in the interests of amenity and public safety, taking account of any material factors, and in particular (a) in the case of amenity - (i) the general characteristics of the locality, including the presence of any features of historic, architectural, cultural or similar interest; (ii) the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of a conservation area, where appropriate". It is self‑evident that it would be wholly undesirable, and using a neutral not a local example, for example St Paul's Cathedral, if the frontage of the area in front of St Paul's Cathedral was taken up with any number of portable advertisements, a conservation area, et cetera, it would be contrary to any proper perception of amenity of that area.
13. MR CLARKSON: Next, (2)b, the other leg, would be the case of public safety and that is whether people can or cannot move comfortably or safely along the pavement which is an adjunct of the obstruction argument. There it is: "(i) the safety of any person who may use any road, railway, dock, harbour or aerodrome; (ii) whether any display of advertisements is likely to obscure, or hinder the ready interpretation of, any road traffic sign, railway signal or aid to navigation by water or air". Then there is an approach of publicity response, a consideration of the response, further publicity and then delay and an order. Unless there is anything I can elucidate in opening, I will take Mr Chatten through his evidence, sir.
14. CHAIRMAN: Yes, we will ask some questions later I think.
MR MICHAEL CHATTEN, Sworn
Examined by MR CLARKSON
15. MR CLARKSON: Thank you. Mr Chatten is in front of me and sits at the witness table. I will introduce him. Are you Michael Chatten?
(Mr Chatten) Yes, I am.
16. You are employed by Westminster City Council as Team Leader of the Planning Enforcement Team at the Department of Planning and City Development. You are a planner and you have broad experience of town and country planning issues and have dealt with planning enforcement issues, including advertising in Westminster since 1993. That is right?
(Mr Chatten) Yes, that is correct.
17. I would like, please, us to start with the photographs. Give the Committee a brief run‑through of some of the examples, particularising towards the end examples dealing with the Petitioner's operation or similar operations. Introduce the photographs, would you?
(Mr Chatten) Thank you. The document you have in front of you is a snapshot of placard advertising on two days earlier in June this year. Literally we sent out two members of my team with a camera to take photographs to try to capture for you exactly the extent of the problem we are trying to deal with in the Bill. At the end of the document there is a useful map, which you may like to have a look at initially, which shows the geographical extent of the problem in Westminster. Right up against the binding you will see three dots in Queensway, but the majority of the other cases are in what you and I would know as the "West End". The blue dots on the map are the night-time placards which were not prevalent during the way, but walking you quickly through the photographs - and I think it would only need to be a very quick walk - what you see, perhaps starting on page four, is an example of one of our prime conservation areas, one of our well-known listed buildings, in this case the Arcadia entrance to Regent Street. In the foreground you will see two of the types of placard that we are seeking to control, one advertising a tanning shop, the other one advertising the Golden Arches of McDonalds.
18. Yes, if anybody thinks it is promotion of small businesses, that would not be correct, would it?
(Mr Chatten) I do not think it is correct anymore. When I first started noticing this type of activity, probably ten, 12, years ago it was small businesses, it was the shop down the side street that otherwise you would not be aware of, but now it is common practice. It is like other forms of advertising, the practice has developed so that mainstream, blue chip companies are now using placard advertising to advertise McDonald's or Sony. As we go through this photographic survey, you will see the types of business that currently advertise and the great range of business they will advertise using this particular form of advertising.
19. Has it been a static experience in the number of placards over the years or has it increased?
(Mr Chatten) I think I am very surprised by what I have seen in this latest survey. Year on year the practice seems to grow. We produced a survey when the Bill was in the House of Lords, we did this survey two years ago in June 2005, and numerically I counted at that time just over 50 boards in Westminster. I was surprised when I did the exercise for this Committee adding up the number of boards in here, there are over 100 boards currently displayed in Westminster. It reinforces my gut reaction that this is a process, this is a form of advertising that is still growing.
20. Let us go forward in the photographs to identify the Petitioner's, can we?
(Mr Chatten) I think to see the Petitioner's it is best to turn to the start. It is page 82 of the photographs which are photographs taken by my team during the evening, starting off in Leicester Square where we see a couple of boards, one for an Indian restaurant and one for an internet café. Page 83 is similar.
21. Pausing at 82, Leicester Square, evening. We can see an Indian restaurant and an internet café just outside Leicester Square Station, in between one of the station exits and the railings onto the Charing Cross Road, can we not? Is there an issue there as to obstruction and easy movement?
(Mr Chatten) Yes, I am sure members of the Committee will be familiar with that area of Leicester Square in the evening. This would be about 7:30. It is incredibly busy and remains incredibly busy, probably until after midnight. Without doubt, the location of those two placards causes a degree of obstruction of the highway as people fight to get past them to get to the tube, to the entertainment venues, to the theatres, the pubs, the clubs and everything that, I am sure members of the Committee will be aware, happens in the vicinity of Leicester Square.
22. Keep going.
(Mr Chatten) On the next page, page 83 we see another internet café, but I think 84 is where we start to see the comedy club-type advertising, the gentleman with the beard at the bottom, number 84. That is not one of Mr Woroniecki's advertisements, but it is for a rival comedy club. If we turn to 85, we see what I understand to be Mr Woroniecki's advertisements and they comprise of a hand-held board. You can see on page 85 a gentlemen leaning against a board in front of the police car. I think it is entirely coincidental that the police car was in the picture, it was passing through, as I understand it, but the modus operandi of Mr Woroniecki`s board men is they stand with their board in prime position, and you can see exactly where that is in Leicester Square. If, as a customer, I were to approach the board man, he would give me a flyer.
23. I think you have got some flyers, have you not?
(Mr Chatten) I think we have some flyers somewhere.
24. I think Mr Lewis can give them out and while he is circulating them, I think there is another flyer from another one.
(Mr Chatten) I think the other flyer is from the other gentleman with the board from the alternative event, but Mr Woroniecki's boards can be seen on page 85 and on page 87. Again, on that page you can see exactly where that is, bang slap in the middle of Leicester Square, we will see the trees of Leicester Square there. If we skip to 89, we are still in Leicester Square, up the Wardour Street end of Leicester Street there is another board. We will have to skip on to 92 to go over the road to Planet Hollywood, which is just in Coventry Street leading up towards Piccadilly Circus and if we skip again to 94 ----
25. Do not go too fast because, again, at 92, I would like you to give the Committee your view as to the ease of movement there may or may not be on the pavement outside Planet Hollywood on the corner of Leicester Square.
(Mr Chatten) Yes, and Wardour Street, and it is fairly typical for 7:30pm, 8:00pm on a weekday evening, lots and lots of people. There is a queue to get into Planet Hollywood which I am afraid is not exceptional. You can see there is one of these so-called rickshaws parked outside waiting for custom. There is a post box situated on the highway and in the midst of the cacophony of movement and people there is one of Mr Woroniecki's signboards advertising "comedy tonight". You can see that in the sign board holder's hands they have a flyer, much the same as the one I have in my hand, which they are happy to hand out to anybody who approaches them, and there is clearly an obstruction point which is exacerbated significantly by the presence of the comedy night board.
26. Keep going. I think you were on 94.
(Mr Chatten) With 94 we are getting off Leicester Square and we are moving away from the comedy venue, which I understand Mr Woroniecki's board men were advertising, and we are getting more towards Covent Garden. I believe these boards would be advertising a different venue or a nearby venue in Covent Garden. You can see another one and that is on the corner of Long Acre and, in fact, I think it is in front of the bar called The Long Acre. That is the extent of Mr Woroniecki's boards on one particular evening in Leicester square.
27. We have at the back of your photographic bundle a map showing what you described as hotspots of where there are a number of day placards and night placards. I hope you have got before you a document looking like that (Indicating) which lifts those day and night placard spots and places them on Westminster City boundary but also includes, Mr Chatten, does it not, two particular conservation areas or maybe three?
(Mr Chatten) Yes. Unfortunately Westminster has numerous conservation areas and what I have tried to do with that map is superimpose the conservation areas, or overlay the conservation areas, over the geographical disposition of boards. There are, in fact, probably about ten conservation areas there, but there is one very large one which is the West End conservation area which covers most of Mayfair, which is why the pink area is quite as large as it is.
28. Designated areas, answer this first, would you, wearing your Westminster City hat and, second, a broader area of the whole area of the Promoter. First of all, Westminster City, in broad terms, what sorts of areas do you think might be promoted for designation?
(Mr Chatten) So far as Westminster is concerned, the sorts of areas that would be designated would be the heritage or historic core areas, the conservation areas, the areas where there is a listed building, the setting of which we would wish to protect. What I have tried to do on this map for the Committee is to -it is a very, very crude devise - try to show that in order to control this sort of advertising in Westminster we would need to designate only a very small part of the City of Westminster where the activity is particularly prevalent. It is a slightly crude tool in the sense that the conservation areas go further afield than where the boards are actually displayed, but it does give the Committee an idea that it will not be the whole of Westminster that will be designated, it is a small part of Westminster.
29. That might flag up the amenity head of Clause 6, Sub-section 2A. I want to deal with the public safety head as well and use Westminster as the surrogate. We can see at the end of Oxford Street a concentration of red boards, am I right?
(Mr Chatten) Yes, this is the eastern end of Oxford Street.
30. Is that by Tottenham Court Tube Station?
(Mr Chatten) Yes, it is between Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Tube Station.
31. Yes, the pavement is busy there, is it?
(Mr Chatten) The pavement, as I am sure members of the Committee are well aware, is incredibly busy at that end of Oxford Street. It is the area of Oxford Street which is crying out for regeneration. It is not the end with Selfridges and the other main flagship stores, it is, as it were, the east end of Oxford Street.
32. What do you say to the Committee about that area being designated on the basis of public safety?
(Mr Chatten) I think at that end of Oxford Street in particular, as well as the visual intrusion of this type of signage, you have the particular issue of obstruction of the highway which is a major public safety concern. I think it is on page 58 of the photographs there is a good example of the type of agglomeration of boards that can occur in the eastern end of Oxford Street.
33. Yes, that front photograph is at the eastern end of Oxford Street?
(Mr Chatten) That is it, yes.
34. That is Westminster. What is your advice about the rest of the area of the Promoters?
(Mr Chatten) So far as the rest of the greater London area is concerned, it is my impression that when the problem does occur, it occurs to a far lesser degree. As I travel around London I notice these boards - I am afraid I am allergic to boards right now - but it seems to me that if other boroughs suffer from this type of problem, it is going to be on a much, much, much smaller scale. Designated areas in other boroughs could be, perhaps, in the vicinity of a particular building, a particular street, a particular square. I cannot imagine that the problem is as prevalent as outside Westminster such as to necessitate designations of great swaths of any of the outer London boroughs or inner London boroughs.
35. Moving from that, I am sure the Committee is well aware of the approach, but give a quick understanding, would you, of the Westminster approach through its planning policy, et cetera, as to the control of the advertisements? Is there a regime which Westminster follows?
(Mr Chatten) There is a very strict regime of control at Westminster but like so many aspects of enforcement, you are not aware of it because what would be there were there not strict controls is not there. This is a problem I have in justifying the existence of my planning enforcement team because planning enforcement is judged basically by what has been removed and is no longer in place, so the reason why, as you go around Westminster, you do not see high levels of signage, you do not see vast advertising hoardings, you do not see garish neon, you see it somewhere, but you do not see it throughout the borough, is that somebody has put a stop to it, has made people comply with the law. We have very strict advertising policies in our Unitary Development Plan. Our Unitary Development Plan has been through the due statutory process and it reinforces my team's arm when we are taking reinforcement action. We have 53 designated conservation areas in Westminster covering 76 per cent of the borough. In those areas there is an expectation, including advertising, to preserve and enhance those areas. We have something like 10,000 listed buildings in Westminster. Again, we have strong policies to protect the settings of those listed buildings.
36. Is there a demand for advertising space?
(Mr Chatten) There is an insatiable demand for advertising in Westminster. Any sign at almost any junction in Westminster is, in strict commercial terms, a very worthwhile investment. For many years the Planning Enforcement Team in Westminster has very robustly enforced against all types of advertising. As I said in my introduction, were that not the case, the face of Westminster would be quite different from what you see today.
37. There are advertising regulations and the latest are the 2007 regulations. Do they apply to portable advertisements?
(Mr Chatten) We know now that they do not apply to portable advertisements. There has been some doubt in the past, and in the past the City Council has sought injunctive relief against placard advertising following a succession of prosecutions for placard advertising. Our injunction application in the High Court was thwarted and in the light of that High Court decision, it has become clear that in order to control this type of advertising we require new legislation, hence the Bill that is before the House at the moment.
38. Just for completeness, the Town and Country Planning Control of Advertisements England Regulations 2007, in the interpretation section, specifically says, "Advertisement does not include a placard or other object borne by an individual or an animal", so specifically excluded. Is it recognised by Central Government that something has to be done locally?
(Mr Chatten) It is recognised. The clarification in the 2007 Regulations that the regulations do not, in fact, apply to portable placard adverts has specifically come about as a consequence of Westminster City Council's action against portable adverts and the doubt that has raised. Despite the fact that Central Government has now made it clear that the regulations do not apply to placard advertising, it is quite clear from what was then the ODPM's response in the House of Lords Select Committee that they do, in fact, support the possibility of local legislation controlling this type of advertising.
39. Let us go to other potential legal controls and there is something called the Metropolitan Street Act 1867, Section 9. I will read out what it says and I will ask you about it. This is an Act for regulating the traffic in the metropolis for making provision for the greater security of persons passing through the streets and for other purposes. Section 9 of the Act provides: "No picture, print, board, placard or notice, except in such form and manner as may be approved of by the Commissioner of Police, shall by way of advertisement be carried or distributed in any street within the limits of this Act by any person riding any vehicle or on horseback or being on foot". Does that provision from the Victorian era give any assistance to dealing with the modern problem?
(Mr Chatten) Frankly, in terms of practical assistance, no. The existence of this particular piece of legislation came to light during our injunction proceedings in the High Court and it was put to us that we should use this particular piece of legislation to control nuisance but, frankly, on closer examination it is clearly a public order type of legislation. It has no amenity content. It is not there to protect visual amenity. It is enforceable by the Commissioner of Police. It is licensable by the Commissioner of Police and when we spoke to the police following our unsuccessful injunctive action, it was quite clear that the last thing the police wanted to do is to control placard advertising throughout Westminster as a public order type issue. They certainly could not control it for amenity reasons, which was one of the main reasons we needed to control it.
40. They could not under the 1867 Act for amenity reasons, could they?
(Mr Chatten) Absolutely not.
41. Next, penalty for wilful obstruction under Section 137 of the Highways Act 1980 which is more up-to-date. I will read it: "If a person without lawful authority or excuse in any way wilfully obstructs the free passage along a highway is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level three of the standard scale of £1,000". Why do you not prosecute for obstruction?
(Mr Chatten) Prosecutions for obstruction are notoriously difficult things to achieve. They are straightforward if you are dealing with a skip which has been placed on the highway or a scaffold which has been put in the wrong place. Last night I was told about a porter loo which had been put on the highway up in North Westminster. That is a relatively straightforward thing to demonstrate. When you are dealing with portable advertisements, such as ones shown on the front of my photographic survey and which clearly are obstructing the highway, it is far more difficult. If I went up to one of those characters and said, "Excuse me, sir, you are obstructing the highway. If you continue, you will be prosecuted", they would move, they would all move. It is impossible to deal with human beings holding boards in the same way that you deal with the porter loo or the skip or the scaffold or the board. That is the first point. The second point is with the obstruction offences and it is the individual holding the board who is liable. It is this poor chap who spends his days holding the board in Leicester Square, or wherever, who the City Council would have to prosecute. The person who is really responsible for the advertising is the tattoo shop or the buffet on the front cover or the internet café, they are the people who are causing the problem, not the poor chap who is holding the board. Under the obstruction legislation I would have to prosecute the guy with the hood on the front cover who would quite easily be replaced by another guy with or without a hood the next day. The obstruction sounds like a sensible proposition because the legislation is there, but the practice of prosecuting anybody for placard advertising as an obstruction is fraught with difficulties and problems.
42. Another key question, bearing in mind the photographs we have, is what is your advice as to whether these advertisements would receive advertisement consent on their merits if it was required?
(Mr Chatten) Subject to the caveat that members of the Committee might reasonably say, "Well, you would say that, wouldn't you", it is my honest and professional opinion that none of these boards show in my photographic survey, which were they to be an application for consent, which the legislation does not allow them to be, it is my view that none of them would get consent for the sorts of reasons that I have described, because of their visual impact, because of their impact on the conservation areas they are sited in because of their impact on the settings of listed buildings which they obviously affect because they obstruct the highway, because there appears to be an accumulation of them. I honestly cannot see circumstances where express advertisement consent would be granted for this type of advertising in the sorts of areas where we are showing it, and I take some comfort from that. I think the question I would ask members of the Committee is that were these signs to be tacked on to the front of any of the buildings that you see there or on the railings such that they were displayed on sites, would they get consent? My answer, I am afraid, has to be a definitive no, they would not get consent.
43. What is the practice in respect of estate agents' boards?
(Mr Chatten) Estate agents' boards are a sort of parallel to this sort of advertising. During the 1970s in Westminster, Westminster was afflicted by estate agents' boards and certain parts of it are prone to those types of displays still. During the 1980s, Westminster sought and achieved from Central Government what is called a "Regulation 7 Direction", which means that estate agents' boards, which would cover the whole facades of buildings in Oxford Street, in Regent Street, but also in the Lancaster Gates, in those sorts of quality Regency terraces, could be displayed with impunity, but the Regulation 7, which we have obtained, has brought a high degree of control over estate agents' boards. As you go around Westminster you will not see estate agents' board. You may see them, but if there are there they are illegally displayed. There is a very high degree of control over this type of thing because of its impact upon visual amenity in these key areas of Westminster.
44. I am going to move to the last heading which is asking you to comment on Mr Woroniecki's Petition. Would you have that before you? Paragraph six, where he is describing portable advertisements as the principal form of advertising, et cetera. Respond to that paragraph, will you?
(Mr Chatten) I have met with Mr Woroniecki in order to tease out with him exactly what the problem is and what his points of concern are. In discussion with him it is quite clear that this is not the sole method of advertising employed by comedy clubs, there are other methods of advertising the comedy clubs. As I understand it, they advertise on the premises where the comedy shows take place, they advertise in listings in newspapers, they advertise on the internet, so it is not the case that this is the sole method of advertising comedy clubs which are available. I think it is slightly disingenuous to suggest that it should be. In Mr Woroniecki own submission, this is a recent form for advertising for comedy clubs, they have not always advertised like this, and I think it is reasonable for us to presume that they existed and presumably flourished before this type of advertising was taken up by them.
45. We can see from the photographs that there is at least one other comedy club. Is that the sum of it, do you know?
(Mr Chatten) Certainly during my trips around Leicester Square, for the purposes of giving evidence today, there are at least three competing comedy clubs in and around Leicester Square with their own distinct placards. I think our photographs only capture two of them but I think there are at least three.
46. Next, at paragraph seven, he tells us that there are analogies with other forms of advertising. If there was an advert in the newspaper, would this be sought to be banned. "They would rather seek regulation of the advert and the advertiser concerned from an expert regulatory body". What do you say about that?
(Mr Chatten) I have some problems with this analogy. If I read the newspaper, whatever newspaper, and I see an advert which I do not like, I close the newspaper and move on. That advertisement does not affect anybody apart from the person who decides to read the advertisement. The advertisements in Leicester Square are there for all people, they are not just there for the people who are looking for a night out in a comedy club, and they affect everybody's enjoyment of Leicester Square as a place and a tourist destination. I think the analogy with newspaper advertising is a little bit misleading.
47. In paragraph eight the Petitioner is saying, well, what we do is different from what others do, do you see a distinction?
(Mr Chatten) Again, I think you would expect me to say that I do not, but I do not. As I look through this photographic survey and I look at the boards displayed by Mr Woroniecki's operatives and those displayed by other comedy clubs, which are at the end of the photographs, they are little different in their effect or their impact from other boards captured within the survey. Certainly in the survey there are larger boards, there are yellow boards and orange boards but, I am afraid, to my mind the visual impact is not directly related to their size. Obviously there is a relationship but it is not directly related to the size.
48. Is there any significance, do you consider, in the handing out of flyers as part of the exercise of portable advertisements for comedy clubs?
(Mr Chatten) In Mr Woroniecki's version of the events, this aspect is a good thing in the sense that prior to the boards there were just flyers, that people would hand out flyers willy-nilly to passers-by. It seems to me though that the solution adopted by Mr Woroniecki where you have a board plus flyers has all the bad aspects of flyers plus the bad aspects of a board. It seems to me what he regards as a discreet and focussed form of advertising is, in fact, a form of advertising which is a little bit worse than just having a board.
49. Paragraph 9, cheap advertising is it? Or should it be?
(Mr Chatten) Well, it has to be cheap, in the sense that what you are looking at in those photographs are little more than pieces of hardboard, presumably purchased from B&Q, mounted on to bits of 2x2, purchased from B&Q, and carried around the streets by an operative who is, presumably, pretty low cost. It is certainly cheap in that sense but its impact is absolutely dramatic in my terms.
50. Is it confined, as we have said already, to small businesses?
(Mr Chatten) It seems that it may have been confined to small off-street businesses at its genesis, 10, 12 years ago, but as time goes by it is clear that other more blue chip companies - Sony, McDonalds, La Tasca, etc, are jumping on the bandwagon. There are more boards now, I think, because companies such as that are also employing it as a means of advertising their premises and services.
51. What do the trade associations of several areas of the hotspots say about it?
(Mr Chatten) The trade associations seem to have reinforced the City Council's sense that something has to be done about the problem. It has always been an advertising issue at Westminster, but since we have been promoting the possibility of legislation to cure the problem certainly the trade associations, such as the Regent Street Association and the Oxford Street Association, and residents' associations such as the South East Bayswater Association, which covers Queensway, have all supported us and prompted us to continue with this effort to obtain a control over this type of advertising.
52. MR CLARKSON: That is all we say about the Petition and that is all I have in chief, thank you very much.
53. CHAIRMAN: Mr Woroniecki, would you like to cross-examine the witness, please?
54. MR WORONIECKI: Yes, if I may.
Cross-examined by MR WORONIECKI
55. MR WORONIECKI: Obviously, I am not a lawyer or anything like that, and I am trying to keep it to simple questions which you can answer yes or no, just to keep it brief as well. The existing legislation which you say, in the notes from the House of Lords, you were referred to by the High Court, was the Metropolitan Streets Act 1867. Is that correct?
(Mr Chatten) That is correct.
56. In the notes from the House of Lords you have referred to it as archaic, and here your counsel referred to it as legislation from the Victorian era. That was given as a reason why it could not be used. This particular paragraph was amended in 1967 and again in 1993. Would you describe 1967 and 1993 as being archaic or in the Victorian era?
(Mr Chatten) I think the short answer to that question is, clearly, no, but what I would say is I have no knowledge of the 1967 and 1993 amendments.
57. Also, you were showing some photos of placards relating to my Petition and my placards, sort of saying: "Here's a placard, and another placard and another placard." Now, if someone is standing on Cranbourn Street and then walks across to the junction of Garrick Street and Long Acre, would that person who walks from one place to another with the portable advertisement be two people? Would you count that as two separate placards?
(Mr Chatten) The short answer to that is, of course, it cannot be; it is the same placard, it has just moved. For the Committee's assistance I would say that if there are duplications (and you are going to say that this person is the same person in both these photographs) then I would have to accept that was the case. It is not something that I have looked at that closely.
58. Finally, you are saying this was the queue as in a normal night. Was there a special music event going on that night?
(Mr Chatten) I cannot answer that question simply because I did not take the photographs and therefore do not have knowledge. What I could help the Committee with is to say that it is not uncommon for there to be queues outside Planet Hollywood.
59. MR WORONIECKI: Thank you very much.
60. CHAIRMAN: You have concluded those questions?
61. MR WORONIECKI: Yes, sir.
62. MR CLARKSON: I do not propose to ask this by way of a question, but just to inform the Committee that the amendments to the Metropolitan Streets Act were, first, to deal with the level of fine in 1993. It increased to £10. Second, a defence was to show that the accused was acting with the consent of a borough council under Section 4 of the London Local Authorities Act 1994, which is distribution of street literature, I am advised, and in compliance with any conditions such as that which are given. The only changes were to pick up something arising out of local legislation, and also something arising out of the anachronism of, obviously, a very low crime historically.
63. CHAIRMAN: Do colleagues wish to take the opportunity to question the witness?
Examined by THE COMMITTEE
64. MR DREW: Can I just be absolutely clear? If someone was to stand there with a T-shirt on advertising a particular event and give out these flyers, would they, as far as you are concerned, be included within the ability to move those people on or arrest them or do whatever you want?
(Mr Chatten) Yes.
65. I am trying to ascertain: is it the fact that they are holding a placard that makes them a guilty individual under the proposed changes?
(Mr Chatten) Yes.
66. Or is it the fact that they are advertising?
(Mr Chatten) We have had incredible problems in drafting this legislation to make sure that we address the mischief that we want to address, which is the man holding a placard; it is not the man with the Nike T-shirt. Your question is: is it the man with the T-shirt that specifically advertises an event. The people we are dealing with here are incredibly ingenious. We served our prosecutions against what we described as "hand-held advertising". We thought that was fairly straightforward, but by the time we got to court the adverts were actually rucksack-mounted adverts; people would no longer be holding them. We had applications for bowler hat-mounted advertisements. So we are really conscious that the legislation has to be crafted and formed in such a way that it is focused on what we want to stop, which is placard advertising. We think we are as close as we can possibly get to that being the case.
67. So your answer would be if someone stood there in a T-shirt which was saying exactly the same thing as a placard, handing out flyers, there is not anything you can do about it?
(Mr Chatten) I am going to look at my lawyer, but I am as certain as I can be that that is the case.
68. MR CLARKSON: Sir, they could be in breach because if they were doing this, they were wearing a T-shirt wholly or mainly for advertisement - mainly for advertisement - then they could be falling foul of the legislation.
69. MR DREW: Could I just ask a corollary to that. Is it the advertisement or is it the time or is it the place that they would be standing in, inasmuch as if you were trying to take action against an individual but that individual was immediately replaced by another individual because there was a time limit, what action would be possible there?
(Mr Chatten) The beauty of this type of legislation as against the obstruction legislation is that rather than necessarily proceeding against the individual holding the board, the option is there to proceed against the person responsible for the display. In other words, in the McDonald's scenario, if there is a McDonald's sign up we can prosecute McDonald's as a company for permitting the display as well as, if we choose to do so, the transient board-holder. I do not know whether I have fully answered your question.
70. I understand, in a sense, what you are saying. You can take action against the business that is being advertised even though that may be different people who are advertising it for a specific period of time.
(Mr Chatten) Indeed. But both sets of people: it would be the business, board-holder one who was there from 9 till 5, and board-holder two who was there from 6 till 9 - or whatever. All of those parties are potentially culpable of the offence and would be controlled.
71. CHAIRMAN: Mr Chatten, if the problem is amenity and obstructing the highway and, therefore, with the risk which might be caused by that - public safety - what is the difference between somebody holding up a placard and somebody selling copies of the London Paper or Standard Lite?
(Mr Chatten) The difference, in my terms, is that one is effectively street-trading. The London Lite, ----
72. It is not trading; he is giving it away.
(Mr Chatten) Therein lies the problem; it is a free newspaper.
73. He has got a pile of stuff in a box, which is presumably obstructing the pavement.
(Mr Chatten) He has a pile of stuff and we have exactly the same problems with the London Lite mainly because if you look at the box, the box is on wheels so it will be moved to avoid the obstruction point. In amenity terms, there is not a dramatic amount of difference. The London Lite regime has a man with a pile of newspapers. If you look, they also have umbrellas with London Lite on them. Potentially, that type of advertising could be caught by the portable advertising.
74. MR CLARKSON: Can I help? There are two areas that I think are a matter of law that I should help on. The Evening Standard vendors are controlled under the Street Trading Act, I am instructed, and they cannot have a pitch if they are going to create an obstruction. Similarly, the free hand-out newspapers are controlled by the Clean Neighbourhoods Act. Again, one of the issues is obstruction, I am advised, and they are covered, sir.
75. CHAIRMAN: Yes, but my real question was from the point of view of councils, what is the difference in the nature of the obstruction or offence of amenity by somebody holding a placard and inviting you to go into McDonald's or an internet café or a comedy theatre, and somebody dishing out copies of a free paper?
(Mr Chatten) I suppose the only difference is that the free newspapers are there for two to three hours in the evening - it is intermittent activity. This activity seems to take place throughout the trading day from first thing in the morning until late into the evening. I cannot give you any better answer than that because in terms of their visual impact and their potential obstruction they have got to have similar impacts.
76. There were originally three Petitioners, two of whom, presumably, you have satisfied.
(Mr Chatten) That is my understanding, sir.
77. What have you done to satisfy those Petitioners? I think one was representing pubs and the other representing theatres. What have you done to satisfy them where you have not been able to satisfy Mr Woroniecki?
(Mr Chatten) I will have to ask counsel to deal with the pubs, because I think that was a licensing point - that was not on this particular point.
78. MR CLARKSON: They were different points.
(Mr Chatten) On the theatres, the revised definition that we have tabled this morning has been specifically prepared in order to satisfy the theatres point. It may be better, Chairman, if I could ask counsel to actually tell you what has been done and why it has been done, and give you a more fuller answer to that question, if that is permissible.
79. MR CLARKSON: The first one is easy, sir, and that is the pubs. They were concerned about a completely different point, but as a result of that Clauses 61 and 62 have been removed. That is a licensing point. Theatres were concerned about their "A-boards" in the foyer of the theatre or the environs of the theatre. That has been dealt with by the clause on the front of the latest amendment. It is Clause 5, page 6, line 9, the new interpretation of "display".
80. CHAIRMAN: It is the introduction of the person holding it?
81. MR CLARKSON: It is the person, which is the point, sir, yes. I have to say, at the end of the day, that does not remove them necessarily from the concept of obstruction.
82. CHAIRMAN: Again, Mr Chatten, I assume your contention is that if you designate the hotspots, because a significant number of these advertisements refer to premises which are immediately adjacent to where the person is standing, then there would not be a displacement factor into adjoining streets. Is that your contention?
(Mr Chatten) I think that is so, sir. Despite Mr Woroniecki's variant, the majority of this form of advertising is in the types of shopping street - Oxford Street - with arrows and directional signs pointing to specific premises down side streets. That being the case, the potential for displacement is, obviously, reduced if an area is designated. I think one would need to be careful in designating areas to make sure that the designators have displacement in the back of their minds. You would not want to have to continually upgrade your designated area because the first designated area displaced the signs into somewhere else. So eternal catch-up would be a pretty pointless exercise. I think you have it, though, sir.
83. CHAIRMAN: You, again, contend that the presence of people holding these advertisements significantly obstructs the pavement compared with simply a mass of people jostling. If you go down to the West End late at night it is a nightmare; you cannot move anywhere because of people hanging around outside clubs and pubs and theatres and spilling out on to the streets. Does this make it a quantifiably worse problem than exists already?
(Mr Chatten) In terms of quantification, I have not actually carried out that sort of exercise, but in terms of the man on the Clapham Omnibus, such as myself, it is quite clear that the presence of these boards in these areas of high pedestrian footfall around Leicester Square undoubtedly increases the obstruction factor. Again, I have to rely upon my photographs to demonstrate that that is the case.
84. ALBERT OWEN: On the same subject that you raised, Chairman, I am not really clear on the answer, or satisfied with the answer that was given, with regards to the obstruction. You are saying free papers are there for two to three hours and that is not, in your opinion, considered to be a major obstruction, yet a sign advertising a comedy for we do not know what period of time because these photos were only taken on an ad hoc basis - what is the difference? To me - and Members of Parliament rarely go down the West End, or even have the chance to go to Oxford Street, for the record - when I do go there the biggest obstruction for me is, actually, people handing flyers out too close to underground stations. They seem to be the biggest obstruction.
(Mr Chatten) Yes. I am sorry if I did not answer the Chairman's question. The first thing about the free newspapers is that they are a very recent phenomena; they have really only happened - there was the Metro in the morning, to start with, which was handed out at tube stations, so you did not get the problem - but the London paper and the London Lite are a very recent phenomena over the last 12 months. They have come out during the passage of this legislation through the Houses. If the Chairman asked me: "What is the difference in terms of obstruction and visual amenity?" I have to answer him honestly that there is not a lot of difference in terms of visual amenity or obstruction. It some ways they can be as obstructive ----
85. CHAIRMAN: But you have powers to deal with that already.
(Mr Chatten) We have certain powers to deal with it but I would not want to give the Committee the idea that we have comprehensive powers to deal with it. It is an emerging issue which, in my opinion, given the amount of issues such as the waste - the litter - that we get from those papers, probably under the next London Local Authorities Bill there will be something on free newspapers. I did not want to give the impression that is not an issue; it very much is.
86. ALBERT OWEN: I do not want to concentrate on the free papers, but if you want to concentrate on the handing out of flyers, you are telling the Committee that some of these are obstructive, and that the hand-held board, is probably, in your opinion, worse than a dozen people handing out flyers.
(Mr Chatten) No.
87. ALBERT OWEN: I find that to be the biggest obstruction - the number of people handing out flyers at congested areas such as tube stations.
(Mr Chatten) I am sure that you are right. What I am trying to get across to the Committee is that Mr Woroneicki suggests that his form of advertising has distinctive benefits. What I am saying is, well, even if it has a benefit in the obstruction stakes, because it focuses the obstruction, as it were, is that a good thing? It is still going to be in pole position in Leicester Square, or wherever. On top of that, you have got the visual disbenefit that everybody has to look at a whacking great sign that is over their heads. If I misled you then I apologise but ----
88. I am just looking for clarification.
(Mr Chatten) It is the double-whammy. It seems to have the worst of both worlds.
89. How would you deal with McDonalds if they were just handing out flyers but had a dozen people in a short space around tube stations?
(Mr Chatten) Again, I am going to look at counsel because I am pretty sure that there is legislation that controls the distribution.
90. MR CLARKSON: Just so that I can help, the Clean Neighbourhoods Act allows councils to designate areas where "thou shalt not hand out flyers or free literature". At the moment, Westminster is investigating a number of areas because of the very point the honourable Member has made. That is in place already.
91. MR DAVIES: Has anyone made any checks on the companies that employ these signboard-holders? Presumably companies like McDonalds or any company would actually physically employ anybody themselves; there must be a middleman who pays people. I would assert that there is a strong likelihood that the people who are doing this are paid cash-in-hand and are, perhaps, not even legal workers. I wondered whether, instead of coming here with legislation, anyone had considered taking action against the companies that employ these sign-holders.
(Mr Chatten) It is a very good point, sir. I think the short answer is that we have not gone down that route; and I think the reason being that even if we took action against that type of company (and, like you, I am fairly sure they do exist; not all of these people are employed by the particular premises that they advertise, and I have read various journalistic items that have cropped up, this material is fairly newsworthy, and they have interviewed board-holders and it is quite clear that there is a sub-culture of board-holder and a pitch is handed from one to another, to another, etc) or the people that organised this mischief it would be terribly easy for McDonalds, or whomsoever, to organise it themselves, if it is as good a form of advertising, as it patently is. Mr Woroniecki, for example, organises it himself. I believe it is actually his Petition. So I think there is something in what you say, and it would be a very interesting exercise with Customs, or whomsoever, to actually go after these people, but we have been seeking to address the amenity issue through, as it were, the amenity plans that are available to the City Council.
92. Would this, hypothetically, affect a group of youngsters handing around on a corner, for example, all wearing T-shirts that advertise a rock group having a concert? Could they not be said to be causing an obstruction and advertising by dint of the fact that they might be wearing a T-shirt with C-king (?) playing in the O2 festival, or whoever it is that is in the Top 10 at the moment.
(Mr Chatten) We have had to look so closely at this legislation to make sure that we do not, as you say, catch the Marks & Spencer carrier bag, or the Nike T-shirt, or whatever, and we are convinced that we are as near as possible to achieving that by the terms of the legislation "wholly or mainly employed for the purposes of advertising" as the sort of phraseology that we are using in the legislation. First of all, it is not Westminster's or anybody else's intention to persecute or prosecute the wearers of T-shirts; what we are after is a way of controlling the people who you see on the front of this photograph album. That is the target that we are after.
93. Ultimately, there would be a certain amount of discretion required by the officer or the constable who decides to enforce this legislation, and they would have to be instructed that they arrest or confiscate things at their peril. They would have to prove that in court.
(Mr Chatten) Absolutely. I can assure the Committee that enforcement will, at first, be softly, softly; after designation of areas we will inform the businesses that advertise in this manner about the changed legislation. Indeed, they will be involved in the designation process to ensure that the designated areas (i.e. when we consider designation) - that the industries affected will be consulted. Businesses, I envisage, will be written to in the same way as the introduction of the smoking legislation or the businesses that are affected by it have been circulated by the City Council to ensure that there is awareness of the legislation. It is only after those efforts have been carried out, which is the awareness aspects, will we move into enforcement. Even then, in the first instance, as I suggested, with the guy on the front cover, we would warn him and say: "Move on. You are not allowed to do this." Prosecution is always a last resort and there is absolute discretion as to whether you prosecute somebody.
94. Presumably, you would expect this mainly to be done by an authorised officer; you would not really be expecting constables to be carrying out this type of work because the practicalities of reporting somebody by summons or confiscating items, for the average PC, would be quite difficult.
(Mr Chatten) I think it would be folly to impose this type of burden on the Metropolitan Police. It is not at all what the legislation is about. One of the reasons that the Metropolitan Streets Act cannot work today is that it is the Commissioner of Police who (a) licenses and (b) enforces. That is ridiculous in 2007. This regime would rely upon authorised officers of the City Council doing this duty amongst all the other duties that they do about obstruction and anti-social behaviour - chestnut sellers, hot-dog sellers; all that sort of raft of, as it were, anti-social activities would be controlled at the same time. This is another weapon in our armoury.
95. Just one last question: would this affect, also, the people you see sometimes promoting religion in one form or another -"The end of the world is nigh", that sort of character - because they are not actually advertising anything, although they are causing ----
(Mr Chatten) It would be a matter of definition because the definition of an advertisement includes such things as directional signs and announcements and advertisements. So I cannot give you a categoric assurance that a religious sign would not fall within that category. Bear in mind that the final sanction of prosecution can only happen after all of those steps of warning have kicked in first.
96. CHAIRMAN: Can I just pursue that and clarify it a little bit? I got the impression earlier on, when we were going back to our little Victorian excursion, that you had given somewhat the impression that the reason that legislation was not applicable was, perhaps, more to do with police priority choice than it was the ability to get a conviction out of it. What you have just said in answer to Mr Davies slightly reinforces that view, that you think this is not something you can ask the police to deal with and you, therefore, need different legislation in order to empower councils. Is that a fair inference?
(Mr Chatten) Not quite. I think the so-called archaic legislation is very much a public order type of legislation, with no amenity considerations. I think the point I was making was that, again, in 2007 is it reasonable for us to expect the Commissioner of the Police to carry out the licensing of this type of activity under the Metropolitan Streets Act 1867? Secondly, is it reasonable to expect our police force to be the enforcement agency for that legislation in 2007? I am afraid my, as it were, common-sense answer to that is no, it is not reasonable. Westminster City Council should be policing and enforcing what is, essentially, a Westminster problem.
97. CHAIRMAN: Mr Chatten, thank you very much indeed. I think that concludes those questions. Mr Woroniecki, would you like to make your case in support of your Petition?
The witness withdrew
98. MR WORONIECKI: I would like to start by telling you a little bit about myself and the type of clubs that I run. Sir, I do apologise if I stumble; obviously, I am not used to this.
99. Sir, I run a small business and, as the Petition states, I run the Comedy Night at several different venues in central London with performances by some 40 comedians a week for 51 weeks in a year, and I also perform in other comedy venues, some of which use this type of advertising. The particular type of comedy venue that we specialise in supporting is up and coming, new comedians, and we also support people who do experimental and particularly interesting work. So there is a sort of sliding scale where at one end you have the sort of comedy which is watched by people who are out on a stag night and at the other end you have things that are happening at these theatres which are much more experimental.
100. CHAIRMAN: May I just, at this stage, get a clarification which will help us as we go along. When you say you run the business can you describe precisely what the business does? Do you hire people and then, for example, come to an arrangement with, let us say, a nightclub that they are going to perform there? Do you pay the performers? Are they contracted to you? If you could let us know precisely the nature of the business.
101. MR WORONIECKI: I pay the performers and the performances take place in various different spaces - function rooms in pubs, downstairs in nightclubs, that kind of thing - and normally what happens is that the nightclubs and the bars let us use the space on the understanding that they benefit from the increased custom and publicity.
102. CHAIRMAN: The income from the company you run comes from what? The money the clubs pay you to do this or you take a commission basis?
103. MR WORONIECKI: It is simply the money that people pay in tickets on doors.
104. CHAIRMAN: The benefit to the venue is the increased sales of drink or ice creams, or whatever it is.
105. MR WORONIECKI: And increased, as I say, positive publicity.
106. CHAIRMAN: Your revenue and the money you use to pay the performers comes out of ticket sales, effectively.
107. MR WORONIECKI: Yes.
108. CHAIRMAN: I am sorry to have interrupted you.
109. MR WORONIECKI: What I would like to do now is read brief extracts from this, which is quite long. A performer has kindly described a little bit about our comedy club. If I can just read a little bit from this. It says: "My name is Nick Revell. I have worked in comedy professionally for 25 years. My credits include being runner-up for the Perrier Award for best stand-up at the Edinburgh Festival, as well as many other awards for TV and Radio writing, such as BAFTAs, International Emmys, Sony Radio Awards in all colours, British Comedy Awards. My performing and writing credits include shows such as Drop the Dead Donkey, The Million Pound Radio Show, The NewsQuiz, etc."
110. If I just skip down to: "The 99 Club", which is my club, "attracts good established comedians precisely because of this publicity strategy. New comedians benefit from playing on the same bill not only because they can play to a small, yet full room, where the atmosphere is more relaxed and enthusiastic, but also because they can rub shoulders with the more established comedians ... Only in this way can new comedians develop into good experienced comedians."
111. Then, from the following paragraph: "In my opinion ... a defining element of British culture is the pride that we take in our sense of humour and our comedy tradition. ... it is also a nourishing part of our cultural identity. Thanks to the on-the-street marketing policy that the club employs, a large proportion of the audience is nearly always tourists. Not only does this give comedians the opportunity and the challenge of adapting their material to an audience who do not share the automatic frames of reference one can take for granted in a predominantly British or indeed London audience, but it also gives them the opportunity to show off one of our defining national characteristics to the rest of the world." "I, for one, get a great sense of pride at being able to demonstrate this cultural asset ..."
112. At the end of that paragraph: "I can't convey how important it is for a comic to be able to work every night of the week to different types of audience. To ban this method of publicity wholesale would be to sever an artery in our comedy system, which I hope you would agree is one of our cultural assets. To sum-up, clubs such as the 99 can only survive by being able to publicise themselves on the street. Comedians established or promising and new benefit massively from being able to play in rooms like the 99. Tourists go home delighted at having stumbled across a secret little jewel of entertainment. The pubs make more money."
113. CHAIRMAN: Presumably English-speaking tourists, predominantly?
114. MR WORONIECKI: Yes. I would like to address something that was said that we could go for other forms of publicity. We tend to get about 80 per cent of our audience through this type of publicity. I have given a particular breakdown of one particular day when we had a "recommended" star in Time Out, the largest listings magazine in London, and there was also a feature article about us in The Guardian Guide. So that would be the kind of day where if we were ever going to get lots of people from other forms of advertising that would be the day.
115. Here we have, at page 11 of the brochure that I handed out, a breakdown of the number of people. The total number of people was 168. However, the number from The Guardian was just 12; the number from Time Out was 14; the number from the online listings sites, two each; the number from our email list was 14 and the number from these forms of street promotion was 124. So that just outlines that it is something which is very important to us.
116. Also, if I can show you some of the photos which I have taken which, hopefully, make the point that I was trying to make that there are different levels of amenity impact. Page 2, photograph 3. That compares our type of sign, comedy-type sign, which I have argued is the sort of sign where people can see it and if they are interested in comedy then come up and ask for information. That is then compared to the sort of big arrow-type sign, which seems to be the ones we are talking about.
117. Page 1 also just show our sign in situ on Cranbourn Street, which is the main entrance to Leicester Square, and you would stand on one side or the other, not both, of Leicester Square. You can see there what it looks like having our sign on the left side or if we were to stand on the right side - what it would like having a stand on the right side. In neither of those two pictures would I say that we are having a significant impact on amenity.
118. Page 3 shows the far side of Leicester Square. That is photograph 4. I think, again, you can see our sign there and, again, I would not say that that is having a huge impact on the amenity of the area.
119. There was a mention of the idea that it is not really realistic for the police to be involved in the control of these kinds of placards which the existing legislation polices. We actually did, when we first started, contact the police as our first port of call. I 'phoned up and asked who would one speak to about this kind of thing, and I was told that the guy to speak to was a particular guy called Sergeant Blunstone at the City of London Community Police, who I 'phoned up and had a good chat to. I would say that, possibly, is why our signs are smaller and have a lower amenity impact than the ones that have tended to come into contact with the council. If you take a very adversarial approach of saying anything is terrible in terms of amenity and this is some sort of terrible mess, then people may well say that is not so.
120. This is very much what we are arguing for in the Petition. We are not arguing that these things should be left unregulated; what we are arguing for is that there should be some sort of regulation rather than eradication and that we, in particular, are doing a good job; we are making a cultural contribution to the City of London. If there was genuinely some sort of amenity problem then, surely, the signs can be controlled in a way where you are aiming to control the amenity, not simply outlaw an entire form of advertising. That would be what we are saying in part 7 when we are talking about analogies with other forms of advertising which are controlled.
121. This point that Mr Chatten made talking about the signs being made out of hardboard, attached to 2x4 is simply incorrect. Hardboard is a very heavy material and it would be difficult to transport. It is not particularly weatherproof. What is generally used by everyone who uses these forms of placard is something called Corex, which is an extremely light, highly flexible, weatherproof material which also can be printed directly onto, and it is very cheap as well, which is why everyone tends to use it. One of the good things about that is that it is, as I say, very light and very flexible, so if people are wandering around with enormous pieces of hardboard on 2x4 I could see why there might be some sort of safety concern, but I cannot really see that with Corex, which is like a couple of sheets of A4 paper in terms of the weight and flexibility.
122. I also raise some things about the photos. I took the slightly odd step of including the 2005 survey in my own evidence - the 2005 survey the council made - which was for two reasons. The first reason is that that does say, on the front, "Viewed as an interest in hand-held advertising placards" (?). I do wonder why such a broad definition has been gone for in terms of all forms of portable advertising in the legislation that is being proposed, whereas in the actual evidence they have come up with this sort of good description of what everyone is talking about. Obviously, I would add something like "large hand-held advertising placards", which would focus it in on ones which have an amenity impact. It does seem rather odd, particularly as the existing legislation, the 1867 Metropolitan Streets Act, does name by name placards - it just says "placards". Again, one wonders why there cannot be the use of that single word.
123. The other reason that I put in the 2005 document was that there is the rather interesting way in which they take their photographs, which they fortunately have done again in the 2007 one, the one that has just been submitted. I will see if I can find the photograph that corresponds. Yes. Sir, we have page 10 in the 2007 document and we have page 6 in the 2005 document. This is, obviously, the very big signs which are the real issue here, I would say.
124. The interesting thing to me is the way that they sort of background this in St James's Tavern in all of those photos, which is the sort of really nicest part of that area. If you turn to page 6 in my little book of evidence, you have a site of what is just to the right and what is just to the left of St James's Tavern. If you look at photograph 7 then you can see the St James's Tavern just in the left of the photograph and you can see what is actually there is a very large McDonalds, followed by the Windmill International Lap Dancing Club, followed by a derelict pub. You can see our little sign standing there, not having very much amenity impact. You can see on the left-hand side our sign again.
125. MR CLARKSON: Mr Chairman, may I ask, through you, are those posed photographs we are looking at?
126. MR WORONIECKI: Yes, they were posed photographs. Also, this does speak somewhat to the types of area where this advertising comes in, which is that these types of areas tend to be rather run-down areas where there is a nearby area which has much better economic activity. As I say, we are generally talking about small businesses here who can afford to open premises in quite difficult run-down areas and then the good thing about that is that, being cheeky; if there is a difficult, run-down area where there is a very rich area nearby you can divert people across, which is, I would say, good for regeneration. This is where our very first club was in this sort of area. So I do know this area reasonably well. It is the kind of area which illustrates this point of benefiting from this type of advertising.
127. As I say, photographs 7 and 7A show a somewhat run-down area and then, as you go further up the road, you have the big Windmill Lap Dancing Club, on page 7, photograph 8, and then you turn over the page again and go further down the road and you get to this point of broken down buildings. Returning to the photographs from 2007, specifically the photographs taken of our placards, the one I mentioned when talking to Mr Chatten was the one shown on page 94, which is outside the Long Acre Bar. He said this was an example of our placards spreading out; that there were many in Leicester Square and all across Convent Garden. The Long Acre Bar is actually the other place where we were running a comedy night downstairs. What happened (hence my reference to people moving around) is that this was, I recollect, our second or third night, so we were just getting established there and working out what we were doing, and we could not find a little notice that we put up inside the pub saying that the comedy is in the downstairs room separate from the main area. So I dashed across to Cranbourn Street and got the chap there to come across and stand in front of the Long Acre pub to tell people it was downstairs, which seems somewhat churlish for them, standing in two places within a few minutes of each other and say that they are different people, if that is what is being said.
128. Page 92, which again judging by the movement into the front of the Long Acre, that gives me a fairly good guess of which day it was, which is why I mentioned a music event happening at Planet Hollywood. The chap in question with the board there, John, when I went around to see what was happening and check that everyone was well and good, he said that this enormous queue had suddenly blown up and so no-one was coming to see him because with our placards, the whole point about these being information points rather than enormous arrows is that people tend to self-select. They see them from a distance away, then they walk over and ask what is happening and take a flyer if they are interested. That does not really work if suddenly there is an enormous queue that forms because of some sort of music event and people cannot get to you. Here I would say he is standing out of the way just tucked in by the pillar box, but anyway at that point we had to see what was happening and subsequently move him across the road. The thing with portable advertisements is you can move them all the time which is why we like to make sure they are removable.
129. In the Act itself, section 6(2)a talks about amenity. One of the things of amenity is features of cultural interest, which we are, a feature of cultural interest ourselves, as was illustrated by my reading at the top. In fact, in Leicester Square, if you want to come and see a feature of cultural interest, we are almost your only choice. I think there are various different casinos on Leicester Square, you can go to various different American junk food outlets or you can go to the cinema and see various American junk films, but if you want to go and see intellectually stimulating, live entertainment, then we are the only people providing it.
130. MR WORONIECKI: One more thing, it is a slightly odd thing of taking a photo from far away, which seems to be reasonable, and then zooming in for the second photo. I do not think many people have eyes which tend to zoom in. My essential point is that to the Council they might see these signs and think, "Oh, well, here is an amenity problem that is to be got rid of". I look at them and see not only my business and the whole cultural benefits, I see my friends and co‑workers and on every page of this booklet is someone who is going to be out of a job. I would much prefer it if, rather than being out of a job, they could be compelled to do their existing job in a way which does not impact on amenity or safety. I would suggest that there must be some more focused way of doing this, by going through the existing legislation, which really has not been explored properly as a result of the fact the Council since 2006 have continuously been telling everyone that all forms of placards are going to be banned very soon and the legislation is going to come in very soon, so no-one has tried to do anything else. I think the really bad comedy signs, which are for some sort of rival club, the problem with them is the chap has clearly thought, "These are going to be banned soon so, as they are falling apart, it's not worth paying out the money to re-paint them, let's stick them together with gaffer tape".
131. CHAIRMAN: I think we will perhaps leave aside the competitors.
132. MR WORONIECKI: Sorry. Essentially, what I am saying is that as most forms of advertising and, indeed, most advertising through the Town and Country Planning Act which has been mentioned, there should be some sort of control with checks and balances rather than a total ban. There are many ways in which controls could be exercised which could take out the amenity problems, for example size, restrictions or if the cultural point is significant enough, perhaps there could be some sort of exemption for specifically cultural events but essentially our point is regulation rather than a ban.
133. CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much indeed. Mr Clarkson, do you wish to reply to that?
134. MR CLARKSON: I do not think I have a right of reply, sir, because technically that was not evidence and I cannot cross‑examine. I do not have a right of reply. I think our points, anyway, are clear.
135. CHAIRMAN: Questions to Mr Woroniecki. A couple to start with. How many people would be on the street with your advertisements? What would be the maximum density at any one time, the most number out there at any one time?
136. MR WORONIECKI: It depends ‑‑‑‑ I should give a more precise answer.
137. CHAIRMAN: Are there half a dozen as opposed to a score?
138. MR WORONIECKI: It does vary on different nights. On, say, a Tuesday night I would say there would probably be two or three spread over Leicester Square and obviously, for obvious reasons, one does not have a density of them because if you can see one sign, then you will go to that person. There is no point in having two people in close proximity. On a Saturday night what we do is we have two different clubs running in very different locations, so on that particular night I would say there would be probably about four or five.
139. CHAIRMAN: The people who are doing this job or holding the advertisements, are they a fixed group of people or people you just hire to do it for the night? Who are they?
140. MR WORONIECKI: Sometimes it is me, quite often it is me. The other people who do it, it is quite a mix actually. Quite often we get students doing it as a part‑time job, resting actors quite enjoy doing it as well, and then we have other people who have come to it through watching our comedy clubs and enjoying and asking if they can get involved in helping out in various ways, which sometimes involves the placards and sometimes involves helping us set up the room.
141. CHAIRMAN: Colleagues?
142. MR DREW: Why do you think you are the only petitioner?
143. MR WORONIECKI: I would say that is because in another life I did PP at Oxford so I have a reasonably good understanding of how this works. When I found out that this was coming through, I phoned up a friend of mine who is a politics don at Queens and asked him is there any way I could get involved and stop this. He told me about the whole petitioning process, so then I signed up to the email updates so that I would find out when the ten‑day period came in. I do not think that many other people have that particular background.
144. MR DREW: Looking at your flyer I can understand why you advertise the people that you do because I have actually heard of them, which I suppose shows the notoriety. Are you seriously suggesting the people you have highlighted there are dependent on passing trade for their audiences, because I would have thought if Lenny Henry was appearing he would get a good audience anyway and you would not need to advertise?
145. MR WORONIECKI: When comedians like this perform at small clubs, we are not allowed to use their name in advertising because it might impact on their tour sales.
146. MR DREW: Can you say that again? When you have got someone well known, you do not advertise.
147. MR WORONIECKI: We advertise, but we are not allowed to use their name. For example, when Frank Skinner came along, his agent specifically said, "Frank doesn't want this to impact on his tour sales. He will also be trying some new jokes which he wants to do in a relaxed environment", so we were told not to use his name in advertising for that night.
148. MR DREW: You turn up and you do not know who you are going to hear?
149. MR WORONIECKI: No, when people come up to the chaps who have the placards on a normal night they would say, "These are the people who are performing and these are the television shows they have done". Quite often what would happen is if Frank was performing, they would give a list of the other people and then that would just be a nice surprise for the audience members when they go up there.
150. MR DREW: It is a funny sort of advertising, where you are advertising people who may not be there. They are appearing on your advert, it implies that these people appear but you are not allowed to say when they appear.
151. MR WORONIECKI: The point of having these people on is just essentially a way of saying, "We're quite a good comedy club because otherwise these famous people would not have chosen us to come and do their sets", but just writing out, "We are a good comedy club", does not really convince anyone. If we say we recently had Jimmy Carr, Frank Skinner and these people, then that is a simple way of saying that. It is made very clear, "Recently seen at the 99" in very big letters at the top, so these people are not tonight, and then it says at the bottom just underneath to emphasise that, "The latest line‑ups at email@example.com or ask any of our fly-overs".
152. MR DREW: I am still a bit confused about the issue of venue. The reason you advertise is because the venues change or have you got a fairly consistent venue and you are trying to tell people the venue exists?
153. MR WORONIECKI: We have different venues on different nights of the week.
154. MR DREW: These are permanent venues, they are venues that have comedians on a regular basis?
155. MR WORONIECKI: Yes, on an ongoing basis.
156. MR DREW: They would be people knowing there were comedians on there and, if they were interested in that sort of entertainment, they would go there because they would know what they would be going to see.
157. MR WORONIECKI: Yes, that is true.
158. MR DREW: Going back to your figures - again, I do not know if you would know this - but when it says "Street promotions 124", it is quite possible that a number of those people may have picked a leaflet up but they would know the club was there and would be thinking, "I want to see a comedian today" or generally people who come in off the street and think, "I have got two hours to spare, I will watch in a comedian".
159. MR WORONIECKI: No, that is certainly what you say is possible. We do try and keep track of it, so we ask people when they come in the door, "How did you hear about us?" Sometimes they have a flyer and say, "I have been before", even though they have a flyer in their hand.
160. MR DREW: You give them a discount if they come in with the flyer?
161. MR WORONIECKI: Yes. It may be worth pointing out if you do the sums, £7, £5 concessions, two for one, it is £3.50 or £2.50, we are not doing this in order to get rich, it takes a lot of £3.50's to get rich. We doing this because we like comedy and want to support it.
162. DAVID DAVIES: Mr Woroniecki, as I understand from your Petition, it is your contention, because your signs are clearly smaller - nobody is disputing that - than many of the others ones that are clearly shown, you would support some form of regulation rather than a blanket ban on all hoardings. Is that a fair comment?
163. MR WORONIECKI: Yes.
164. DAVID DAVIES: If there were to be regulation, it would have to control both the size of the boards and the numbers of people in an area who could advertise. Is that a fair comment for me to deduce from your Petition?
165. MR WORONIECKI: Yes. That would be absolutely fair.
166. DAVID DAVIES: Basically what we would have then - and I am trying to think through where we are going with this - we would have a situation where we would inevitably have more people wanting to have boards up than there were pictures available, certainly more people wanting to advertise than the Council would want advertising. Is that a fair comment also to make?
167. MR WORONIECKI: Not necessarily. I mean it is not like these boards represent free money, you have to invest in them and advertising in certain ways will work for certain businesses and not for other businesses, so there is not going to be an infinite supply of businesses out there which are going, "Placards are for me".
168. DAVID DAVIES: At the moment what we have in both these submissions is large numbers of people advertising with boards.
169. MR WORONIECKI: Yes.
170. DAVID DAVIES: You definitely agree that boards at the moment are too large, or at least some of them are too large, and you would support regulation to smaller boards?
171. MR WORONIECKI: Yes, I would.
172. DAVID DAVIES: Therefore, the Council are bound to have to charge, if they do regulate, some of form of money for some form of licence because the nature of regulation is that it has to be policed if it is to be done properly. Then, therefore, charges would inevitably be made on anyone who wanted to use this form of advertising.
173. MR WORONIECKI: Yes, that sounds reasonable.
174. DAVID DAVIES: Is it not actually the case, though, if that were to happen, the logical outcome is the Council would inevitably restrict the numbers? We could argue about whether that is a good thing or a bad thing but there would be some form of restriction in place, they would not allow an infinite number of people to advertise, and they would, as all local authorities do, find it a useful way of raising some revenue. You end up with a situation where the American fast food chains, which you mentioned earlier on, end up being the only ones able to use this form of advertising because they are the only ones who can afford to pay the prices charged.
175. MR WORONIECKI: That would be the case if the Council were deliberately to set up the regulations punitively high, but I think there are many cases where things are licensed where it is not set punitively high, it is set at some sort of reasonable level.
176. DAVID DAVIES: I am trying to think through what I suspect might be a likely outcome, but if there were very large numbers of people who appeared to be wanting to use this form of advertising and a limited number of places, then it is pretty reasonable to conclude, whether we agree with it or not, the local authority would charge a bit of premium because they would be able to do so. Therefore, the only people who would end up being able to access this form of advertising would be the large companies and the McDonalds of this world and the rest, not the small struggling theatre companies like yourself perhaps.
177. MR WORONIECKI: If you look at my photos, if you look at page six, there is a very good McDonalds sign and I think the relevant one is possibly page three for Leicester Square McDonalds, but again you have got this enormous shop frontage. I do not see a huge advantage in paying out a very large premium fee for a placard which points at something which has an enormous frontage in the first place anyway. These huge American junk food places, which take up a lot Leicester Square, do have multi-storeys and enormous neon signs outside and if the Council were saying, "You have to pay £2,000 to hold a placard", then they are saying, "It is not going to make a huge amount of difference to us".
178. DAVID DAVIES: One other question then. There is nobody here who has cast any aspersions over the people you employ or the legality of your employment practices, and let us put that on the record, nobody has ever suggested that you have been anything other than a good employer. I did say earlier on that I suspected many of the people who carry out this form of advertising, the sign holders, are quite possibly employed illegally and perhaps not even paid the minimum wage. To your knowledge, is that a fair assertion to make or do you believe that all of the people doing this are being employed by reputable companies, paid the minimum wage and are paying taxes on that as well, if necessary?
179. MR WORONIECKI: I know certainly that with the informational point placards that we use, it is very important that the person be erudite and able to speak to other people.
180. DAVID DAVIES: I am not questioning you at all and nobody has done but you did say you know most of the people who do this in your area and you talked about the fact that you would know many people who would be out of a job.
181. MR WORONIECKI: Yes, we are currently competing on wages with another club called The Bathhouse Comedy Club which has recently started paying, I think, £8.50 an hour to its people, which is obviously well above the minimum wage. The thing with these informational signs is it is all about the person sees it, if they are interested, they will come up and ask for information and then if your chap is a very erudite chap, they will come to your place.
182. DAVID DAVIES: That is fine. It is not fair to ask you about the people who advertise the tanning shops and the McDonalds who do not necessarily have to be erudite to deal with customers.
183. MR WORONIECKI: I see. Yes, I do not know about those other people, although I would say obviously if there are people out there breaking other forms of the law, there are other laws which can be applied.
184. ALBERT OWEN: How long have you been operating? You mentioned on quiet nights you have about two people out working, probably including yourself, and on weekends a few more. How long have you been operating and how have you seen your business grow and over what period?
185. MR WORONIECKI: We started out about two and a half, three years ago. Initially it was one room above a pub and we operated a free entry night. As I say, it is all about the comedy, it is not really a money-making thing, but we found after several months that we were getting quite a few people along and there was this sense if we were to put a charge on the door, we could pay money to the comedians who perform and that would be a good thing to do. That was what we did there and we managed to gradually grow until we were within several different pubs. There is a pub called The Round Table which is in a sort of tucked area near Leicester Square tube, there is a pub called The Wheatsheaf which is tucked away to the north ----
186. ALBERT OWEN: The point I am making is you say it is not about the money and your email from a colleague, I presume, who wrote in says it is about culture. Have you looked at other ways where you can get subsidy to help your business rather than having this bold type of advertising in London?
187. MR WORONIECKI: Yes, we have.
188. ALBERT OWEN: What is the success?
189. MR WORONIECKI: Comedy, unfortunately, is seen as too commercial an enterprise. If you are doing experimental theatre, then it is relatively easy because everyone knows about experimental theatre. If you are trying to say, "What we are doing is experimental comedy", people do not understand and they think of the megachains, like Jongleurs, which cater for stag and hen parties which is very, very different from what we do.
190. ALBERT OWEN: Most of these companies and fringe theatre companies that come to London must advertise somehow. Why do you think you should be different to them? The point I am making is if they all went on the streets, then there would be huge numbers. You have talked about increasing economic activity in an area which is run down. Do you see a point - and this is the final question - where you have helped to regenerate an area enough and other companies that will use another form of advertising, but do you intend that everybody moving into that area in a similar job to yours will do exactly the same?
191. MR WORONIECKI: I think if an area was - and I do not want to over-emphasise the regeneration point, that is just a useful side effect, but it is certainly not anything which is a core belief in our business - to go from being very deprived to being extremely affluent, then there would be a lot more people walking around with money in their pockets.
192. ALBERT OWEN: So there would be less need for your boards, is that what you are saying?
193. MR WORONIECKI: Yes, people would see an A-board, which is one of the other forms of portable advertising, which, with the amendment of two days ago, has suddenly been excluded from this, and they would come because of that. The further point you were making earlier about the difference between comedy nights and theatre nights, Soho comedy, I think, has a particularly special claim in that Soho, Central London, in that square, was where alternative comedy was originally invented in the early 1980s which is a rather special thing about the cultural amenity of that area.
194. CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much indeed. I have learned a new word, "fly-over". A fly-over is somebody hanging out flyers, sheets, are they?
195. MR WORONIECKI: Yes. As I said, when I first started ---
196. CHAIRMAN: You do not need to give me an explanation but for the purposes of future scrabble contests, it is somebody handing out a flyer sheet?
197. MR WORONIECKI: Yes.
198. CHAIRMAN: It says, "Latest line ups, ask any of our fly-overs", that is what a fly-over is?
199. MR WORONIECKI: Yes.
200. CHAIRMAN: Thank you for that information. I am going to invite both parties to withdraw while I test the waters to see whether the Committee feels able to come to a decision relatively quickly. If I feel we are not, then I will ask somebody to let you know and invite you to be back at 1 o 'clock, but we will let you know.
Counsel and parties were asked to withdraw
and after a short time were again called in
201. CHAIRMAN: We have considered the Bill under Petition. We have accepted the case for the Bill with the amendments proposed by the Promoters. I invite the Promoters to prove the preamble
202. MR CLARKSON: I will call Mr Blackwell, if I may.
MR GARY BLACKWELL, sworn
Examined by MR CLARKSON
203. MR CLARKSON: Are you Gary Blackwell?
(Mr Blackwell) I am.
204. Are you head of Litigation at Westminster Council, the Promoters of the Bill?
(Mr Blackwell) I am.
205. Have you read the preamble to the Bill?
(Mr Blackwell) Yes, I have.
206. Is it true?
(Mr Blackwell) It is.
207. CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much indeed.