Right to Protest Demonstrate Communicate

The “No To The Bike Parking Tax” campaign – a non-political action group representing motorcyclists and scooterists to object against the illegitimate introduction of parking levies by Westminster City Council (WCC) and any other authorities, found out last weekend that their right to communicate their protests and demonstrations through their website was pulled.

Although the “No To The Bike Parking Tax” campaign engage in and organize peaceful protests – ‘non-violent direct action’, the campaign reports that their website was suspended as a direct result of a “rogue Westminster Council employee” using his council email address when airing his own personal grievances.

The latest “No To The Bike Parking Tax” campaign newsletter which contains a full report on the debacle continued with:

The web company was duped when WCC Head of Legal, Peter Large wrote using his council web address naming them in a planned legal action.

In an unprecedented attack, Mike More not only condoned his employee’s actions, shocking other council employees by claiming it to be “within our “reasonable private use” policies”, before adding “I should also point out that the City Council could decide to take action in defence of our employees.”

Gerard Livett, a firm supporter of the campaign (who incidentally is also the President of the Federation Of European Motorcyclists Associations (FEMA) commented in the “No To The Bike Parking Tax” press release:- “I work for a local authority (not Westminster) and if I were to use my work email address for a private lawsuit I would almost certainly fall foul of our “acceptable” use policy”.

This was later supported by an HWS Hosting chief who noted: “I work closely with Hull City Council, and from personal experience their employees usually use either a personal email address or personal social media account when talking about any matter outside of the council”

After a few hectic days the “No To The Bike Parking Tax” campaign website has with the assistance offered to them by the web-hosting provider that accommodates Wiki-Leaks, moved, lock-stock-and-barrel, to somewhere in Sweden by their backroom techie team which has now assured the site is out of reach of central government let alone the Barrow & More gang.

Warren Djanogly, the “No To The Bike Parking Tax” campaign chairman said, “The fact that Mr Large issued these threats so soon after we announced our consulting with lawyers with the view to taking a private prosecution against him for Misconduct in Public Office for bringing his office into such disrepute can be no coincidence. Similarly, the timing of it just weeks before our Court of Appeal against WCC after permission was granted by Lord Justice Jackson on a staggering six out of seven challenges of the original High Court ruling comes as no surprise. What was a genuine surprise was the disgraceful and utterly irresponsible reply from council boss Mike More. To condone the illicit use of taxpayer-funded council resources is bad enough. To then threaten legal action against those bringing it to your attention is totally unacceptable and surely now must have rendered his position as equally untenable as Mr Large’s.”

With this unprecedented “attack” on the “No To The Bike Parking Tax” campaign, which we believe is the first motorcycling campaign group to use all aspects and all the tools of the “surge” in web campaigning and social networking, combined with traditional “bikes on the streets” protesting and lobbying, in the UK and to Europe in Brussels.

Our view is that legitimate motorcycle campaigning organisations across Europe must be web aware and must be prepared to not only fight for their principles in their lobbying and campaigns but also to defend their right to protest, demonstrate and communicate.

The “No To The Bike Parking Tax” campaign can be found at www.notobikeparkingtax.com

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