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Coffee House

Cameron takes it to the councils

11 April 2011

3:46 PM

11 April 2011

3:46 PM

Ignore what your council is telling you. So says no less a personage than the Prime Minister of our country, speaking at one of his freewheelin’ roadshow events this afternoon. Cameron may have
been referring specifically to the red tape being wrapped around Royal Wedding street parties, but it’s
still a pretty pugnacious point for a PM to make. Here’s the full quotation, courtesy of the superb PoliticsHome:

“I hope people are able to join in and celebrate and I am very much saying today that if people want to have a street party, don’t listen to people who say ‘it is all bureaucracy and
health and safety and you cant do it.’ It is very important to understand if anyone wants to have a street party you don’t need a food license, you don’t need an entertainment license, you don’t
need to have written documents about closing your street, you don’t have to pay for street closures, you don’t have to have special health and safety permission because there are councils out
there telling you you do need these things – you don’t.”

[Alt-Text]


It’s the latest, and one of the most striking, episodes in the coalition’s ongoing battle with the local authoritarians. And it certainly typifies Cameron’s use of the bully pulpit of
government to shame other organisations into, if not compliance, then at least defensiveness. At the same event, today, he also attacked Oxford University’s record on attracting black students
— although, judging by the university’s rebuttal,
he got his numbers sorely wrong on that.

Question is: if you contravene council directives over a street party, can you say the Prime Minister put you up to it?

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