I totally don’t understand the new Hebden Royd Town Council booking policy for the Hebden Bridge Picturehouse. What do you think?
The policy makes the Town Clerk responsible for deciding whether a booking conforms to Hebden Royd Town Council’s Vision Statement, as well as meeting five other conditions necessary to accept the booking.
If the Town Clerk can’t or won’t make this decision, they are to refer it to the Town Council’s Picture House Committee.
This is the H.R. Town Council’s Vision Statement:
“The economic, social, and environmental well-being of those who live and work in Hebden Royd will be a major factor in all our decision-making.”
Why is this policy necessary?
The bookings policy seems fantastically cumbersome, and why are its restrictions on bookings necessary?
Existing censorship laws prohibit the public exhibition of arts and media productions that are deemed to be socially undesirable, eg on grounds of obscenity, libel, blasphemy, incitement to religious and racial hatred, and national security.
On the other hand, under the Human Rights Act, everyone enjoys a qualified right to freedom of expression.
Why not just say that HB Picturehouse booking policy is to accept all bookings that can pay for the hire of the cinema and are within the law – including the Human Rights Act, as well as the various censorship laws?
Article 10 of the Human Rights Act makes it clear that the right to freedom of expression extends to information and ideas that may offend, shock or disturb the State or a sector of the population.
The fact that this is a qualified right means that it may be limited or interfered with, in certain circumstances.
Legal justifications for limiting the right to freedom of expresssion
Article 8(2)) of the Human Rights Act identifies what the circumstances are that justify limiting the right to freedom of expresssion.
For an interference to be justified it must:
- Be ‘in accordance with the law’ – this means that there has to be clear legal basis for the interference and that the law should be readily accessible.
- Pursue a legitimate aim – there are six legitimate aims set out in Article 8(2), including ‘the prevention of disorder or crime’ and ‘the protection of the rights and freedoms of others’. A public authority which intends to interfere with a person’s rights under Article 8 must be able to show that what they are doing pursues one of these six legitimate aims. This is rarely a problem, as the legitimate aims are so widely drawn.
- Be ‘necessary in a democratic society’ – This is usually the crucial issue. There must be a good reason for the interference with the right and the interference must be proportionate which means that it should be no more than is necessary. If there is an alternative, less intrusive, way of achieving the same aim then the alternative measure should be used.
Updated to include information from Cllr Timbers that the final decision on bookings does not rest with the Town Clerk.