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Great North Cheerless

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South Tyneside bans photography

South Tyneside Council illiberal/illegal censors

One might have thought after the publicity given in this blog and others to the illiberal and frankly illegal practise of bearing down on photography in public places, that the message might start getting out, but it hasn’t. Photography in and from public places is perfectly legal in this country, yet this is the notice that greeted me as I entered the Bents Park, South Shields today for the “Great North Cheer”. Perhaps I should have said “cheerless”.

The event publicised in the Shields Gazette was meant to be a cheer leading contest between various teams of coached girls and I thought it might make interesting and useful material for South Shields Daily Photo and help promote the good things that we have to offer during the summer months. But it seems that the organisers, Kids get Fit assisted by South Tyneside Council’s Sports Development Team, don’t want or see the need to publicise their efforts and attract a wider audience for their proteges.

I don’t recall South Tyneside Council having a particular bye law prohibiting photography in it’s public parks, neither do I recall any Act of Parliament banning such a nasty activity, neither do I recall any public notices published by our council to the effect of banning or restricting photography in any of our named parks, so just how do they justify this illiberal censorship and removal of people’s rights?

On arrival via the gate in Bents Park Road we were greeted by a series of notices tied to the trees including the one pictured, then we were met at a table by some gentlemen who directed us away from the cheer leading event! We were told that we would have to follow the path that leads out on to Beach Road “because there is a cheer leading thing on“. I was dumbfounded and decided to ignore this silly advice on the assumption that they really would like people to come and watch. My daughter and I joined the small crowd of onlookers, mainly parents, relatives and friends only to learn that the participants were to remain behind the fenced off section “for safety reasons“, and that doing “stunts or cartwheels” without your coach being present was not allowed because “it is dangerous!” There were further announcements telling people to put away cameras as “only the official event photographer” was allowed to snap away on her little Fujifilm digital camera. Oddly, when the Gazette photographer arrived (and somehow found the right person to speak to) there was a hurried reassembly of dancers “for a picture for the papers“.

Just who are the people that South Tyneside Council is trying to protect us all from? With children fenced off from the public, with CCTV cameras in and around the park, with yellow jacketed stewards everywhere, with a police station just minutes away, with caring sharing parents on hand, with cartwheeling banned, just what exactly is the danger? Surely even these parents would like, and deserve, to record the event on their cameras to show to other members of the family at a later date?

If they really want to keep folks away, fenced in or out, and ban the recording of the event, then can I suggest they hold it in the gym at the Temple Park Centre, South Shields and close the bloody curtains!

Just why are these council “jobsworths” determined to take away a few more freedoms from happy families?

Perhaps these public servants ought to be taught how to protect our dwindling civil liberties rather than how to protect their own backsides, after all we pay them to serve our interests, we are not here to bow the knee and doff caps for them!

As you can see, I found plenty “leading” but very little “cheer”.

p.s. If there were any paedophiles at this event then they were likely to be fathers, older brothers, grandfathers, or uncles of the participants. I’m sorry if this hurts or upsets anybody, but statistics show that the vast majority of abuses against children are caused by those closest to them. You need to be more scared of your own family than strangers!.

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Written by curly

June 29, 2008 at 2:00 pm

14 Responses

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  1. i would like to say that i was one of the parents whom attended this event and all though it was sad that on the day there was not more people there to view the event and you were not allowed to take any photos or videos i felt that you have completly bypassed the fact that their was an event in which all of the children some as young as four worked really hard for and pulled off very well. you seem to have concentrated on the bad things about the day instead of the good things. all i wish to say is that all that matters is that they all had fun they were excellent and they made their parents proud.

    donna thompson

    June 29, 2008 at 7:44 pm

  2. I do apologise Donna let’s not forget about the efforts that were made by the participants and their coaches, a first class piece of entertainment for those who were present, a little helpful publicity would ensure that these events grow in popularity.. However, you may not be aware that this is an ongoing campaign to protect the rights of photographers to pursue a perfectly legal pastime (or profession) and which is under increasing threat from bureaucratic interference and illogical moves to “protect us all” from irrational fears.

    I’m sure that you too would have loved to take home pictures of the event in your camera if you had been allowed to do so.


    June 29, 2008 at 11:43 pm

  3. I am pleased (from Donna’s comment, above) that the event had its* good side, in spite of the negative aspects. We here in Medway are coming up to our second annual “Medway Mile” race, and I was pleased to witness the cheerleaders and majorettes who performed for us last year.

    I didn’t take a camera then as I was in the race and it would have been a hindrance; but others did and there was no problem here. It is such a shame when significant events and the efforts of many cannot be recorded for posterity, and the future will be much poorer as a result, as we shall have no reference material from these times, in those places that did not permit it for whatever misguided reason.

    * By the way, note the possessive form of its, as distinct from the contraction of it is that becomes it’s — a completely different word.

    John M Ward

    June 29, 2008 at 11:43 pm

  4. […] know that I’m a bit hacked off with officialdom and it’s attitude to public photography (amongst other things) so I decided to ask the Council a few questions concerning which laws they […]

  5. i would just like to reply to your comments,,,
    i am very upset by some of your comments made about an event preformed by kids to raise money for other unfortunate kids,,as for photos being taken,,i feel that its up to the parents to say whom should take photos of there kids,,i was taking photos of kids whom parents had given permission for me to do so,,,not some mr anybody who has no right and no reason to take photos of girls.
    as for the comment on paedophiles,,it is not just males that can be sick minded towards kids ,,its also female,,
    you really what to think about what you type..
    this event was worked on really hard by the kids involved and they had a great day,,so why you feel it necessery to put them down???????/

    sammijay,,,parent and photographer on day of event

    July 4, 2008 at 6:27 pm

  6. Sammijay,

    I have at no point attempted to put down the hard working kids, parents and organisers who provided the event. In fact if you read my comment above (no. 2) I praised them for providing the entertainment. If you have the time to look into some of my previous posts you will see that my attack is aimed at administrators who have taken it upon themselves to arbitrarily restrict or ban photography in public places (which is a perfectly legal pursuit) without reference to any Act of Parliament or local Bye Law – this is because there are NO LAWS generally allowing such bans. It is neither here nor there that the type of event comes into my consideration, I am more concerned with the creeping authoritarian actions against photographers in general, both amateur and professional. This blog has highlighted a number of problems in this respect throughout the UK, and I fully support the campaign launched by Austin Mitchell MP to bring the problem to the eyes and ears of the Home Office and Police forces throughout the UK.


    July 4, 2008 at 8:20 pm

  7. […] conversation this morning with a lovely lady who had a daughter involved in the Kids Get Fit Great North Cheer event last Sunday in the Bents Park, South Shields, and I’m really glad that she got in touch. […]

  8. […] illegal practise of bearing down on photography in public places, that the message might start gett results for children on the […]

    children on the beach

    July 31, 2008 at 9:19 am

  9. […] for the sound of birds and perhaps keeping a wary eye open for officials ready to clamp down on my seditious recording of life through a […]

  10. […] for the sound of birds and perhaps keeping a wary eye open for officials ready to clamp down on my seditious recording of life through a […]

    Curly’s Corner Shop

    August 11, 2008 at 9:48 am

  11. […] were notices attached to trees in the Bents Park, South Shields, this year banning the use of cameras, video, recorders, or camera phones for a Cheer Leading […]

  12. […] Great North Cheerless […]

    Curly’s Corner Shop

    August 21, 2008 at 6:30 pm

  13. Hi, Ive just read this post. I totally agree with the ridiculousness of these over the top bans trying to be implemented on photography across the country, however, with situations like this I’d say its just one of those things best to steer clear from for the sole reason of it causing uproar and controversy.

    By all means have photos taken of a fun event, but I think in these instances it’d be best to leave it to the parents. Whether most paedophiles are relatives or not, its still an uncomfortable feeling to know others are photographing your children.


    October 17, 2008 at 12:51 pm

  14. […] Great North Cheerless […]

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