Curly's Corner Shop, the blog!

South Shields premier political blog

A victory for common sense!

with 14 comments

South Tyneside crestSouth Tyneside to lead way in photographer’s rights dispute

I have had a very fruitful and meaningful meeting with Tony Duggan, South Tyneside’s Head of Cultural Services this afternoon, following the world wide protests that erupted after this post and this picture appearing in South Shields Daily Photo.

The background to the story involves a number of interjections by South Tyneside Council staff, sub-contracted security staff, and Northumbria Police whilst I have been taking photographs in and around South Shields. The usual reason given when I am asked to stop taking pictures is “to protect the children”. Today’s meeting was facilitated by the Labour Leader of South Tyneside Council Cllr. Iain Malcolm who is keen that the Borough’s external image should not be tarnished by such disputes over a libertarian issue that is sweeping across the country like a plague. (I suspect that he didn’t want his in-box filling too rapidly either.) Photographers have every right to expect to be able to operate (within the law) freely in public places.

I accept that as far as South Tyneside Council employees are concerned they spend, the majority of their time working indoors in schools, youth clubs, youth projects, and leisure centres and facilities. They are well versed and trained in issues relating to child protection and when faced with making “on the spot” decisions at outdoor events, and confronted with complaining parents they are likely to instantly refer to their training, this is a natural reaction. Of course Police and PCSOs ought to be better trained and more understanding when it comes to photography and the law, but this is an area over which our council has no control at all.

As in all negotiations there was a trade and a concession given, but Mr. Duggan has agreed that council staff under his control will be offered additional training and new guidelines to help them manage complaints received from members of the public in relation to photography in public places. He also intends to post notices around the sea front area of South Shields, particularly in the Bents Park, the covered promenade and the amphitheatre advising members of the public that photographers will be operating in these densely populated high traffic tourist areas. This ought to reduce the small number of complaints received by his staff and make life just that little more comfortable for visiting photographers (of either sex.)

We had a wide ranging discussion covering most of the legal technicalities under which photographers may or may not operate, and other tourist related issues, and we have agreed that the above measures should go a long way towards achieving harmony and bring an end to a frustrating situation which might have seen me bringing an end to South Shields Daily Photo.

By proving that South Tyneside Council has a good listening ear they will put themselves in the vanguard of helping to protect and enhance the rights of photographers, and moves such as this will likely be mirrored and echoed by other local authorities throughout the UK as news of this landmark decision spreads.

South Shields Daily Photo will be back with a splash tomorrow!

A Labour council siding with a right wing libertarian, who woulda thunk it?

A nod and a wink to Tibs – it’s perfectly safe to photograph in South Tyneside!

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Written by curly

August 21, 2008 at 5:58 pm

14 Responses

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  1. […] South Shields Daily Photo will be back tomorrow – see this post. […]

  2. […] Original post by curly […]

    Curly’s Corner Shop

    August 21, 2008 at 6:33 pm

  3. Excellent conclusion to this issue, Curly! Congratulations.


    August 21, 2008 at 8:32 pm

  4. Was at Tommys party today and people were happily snapping away without problems. Well done and credit to the council


    August 21, 2008 at 9:44 pm

  5. Great news!!!! Now maybe I will plan on getting back to South Shields. Good for you for taking the time and effort to clear up this matter.

    Clare, Clinton, New York, USA

    August 21, 2008 at 9:54 pm

  6. I’m glad that all got sorted out but just a thought for all those too-eager citizens, vigilantes and over zealous officials. Is it really likely, in this country which is awash with CCTV cameras, that either terrorists or paedophiles would flaunt their cameras in full view?


    August 21, 2008 at 10:59 pm

  7. No Mike, they would use the ubiquitous smart phone device that are sitting in our pockets!


    August 22, 2008 at 12:06 am

  8. Err…….now hang on a minute Dee…….who brought this issue to their attention? This is the same council whose employees only two days ago were asking me to stop taking photographs!

    Credit where it’s due I think.


    August 22, 2008 at 12:28 am

  9. Sorry Curly I didn’t express that very well. I meant well done to you for raising the issue and getting it resolved. Credit to the council for responding.


    August 22, 2008 at 9:58 am

  10. Any photos of Carrie?

    Bless her.


    August 22, 2008 at 7:54 pm

  11. Great news! so pleased you’ve sorted your differences and that good sense – and what is allowed, for heaven’s sake – has finally prevailed.

    Negotiating always is better than war!


    August 23, 2008 at 2:06 pm

  12. Great to hear that common sense has in the end won through and overcome stupidity!


    August 24, 2008 at 6:45 am

  13. I’m a little late catching up on your news, but this is a very good outcome for all. Congratulations for perservering and seeing this through.


    August 25, 2008 at 5:19 am

  14. […] our council here in South Tyneside takes a more realistic view these days about […]

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