Thursday, 21 January 2010

Photography banned at Westwood Cross Shopping Centre.

Several people have asked me to take some pictures of Westwood Cross, some of these are completely disabled and will never get to see it, some are people who have moved away from Thanet and are curious to know what people are talking about.

Anyway it’s my day off today and although the gloomy winter weather does bring to mind a phrase popular among teenagers of my generation; “today has been cancelled due to lack of interest,” I thought I would get the shopping from Sainsburys, take the bookshop recycling to MPL at Westwood and take a few hundred photographs of Westwood Cross.

After taking a few a couple of security men appeared and told me I would have to get permission to take photographs, they said that they would use their radios to get permission from head office and asked me why I was taking pictures.

Obviously I explained that I had started taking them last year to make an historical record of Thanet and that when I had started publishing them to the internet in the order that I had taken them, this became as close to going for a walk in their home town as some people could get, and when I stopped doing this I got a lot of emails asking me to carry on doing so.

They relayed this to head office in the simplified for of taking pictures for a website for disabled people, frankly they seemed more stunned than I was when the answer came back as no.

One of them said to me, “I would say to you have a nice afternoon shopping with your wife, but now I just don’t know what to say.”

The only picture I didn’t publish was the one of the security guards, as they were so pleasant about the whole affair that I don’t want them implicated.

Now I am not sure of the legal position here, the security guards said that this ban could be enforced, as Westwood Cross Shopping Centre is private property.

Firstly it begs the question of what constitutes a public place? I would have though anywhere the public have unrestricted access to.

More important here to my mind is that there should be one law for this shopping centre and another for the rest of Thanet, with its own private police force enforcing a constitution that isn’t made up by an elected body or producing laws that are not made by precedence based on the courts and the jury system.

This is a very slippery slope to go down and could have an effect on our basic human rights.

The last time that we had a constitution in England was when Oliver Cromwell reigned, his slippery slope lead all the way to regicide.

They are certainly quite happy to use the law of the land when it suits them it says on their website http://www.westwoodx.co.uk/terms/ “6 Governing Law and Jurisdiction
These Terms and Conditions will be governed by and construed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you agree that the English courts shall have exclusive jurisdiction in any dispute.
If you do not agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions, please leave this website now.”
Here are the pictures I took before I was stopped http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/Laptop5/id5.htm

Oh and the top picture is of a CCTV security firms van at Westwood they seem to think that they are above the law too, as they have no number plate.

22 comments:

  1. This angers me; I must try to do a naked photoshoot up there to REALLY piss them off!

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  2. There is no law against you taking photos anywhere except on government land. Anywhere that is open to the public and considered private land MUST have signs erected saying that it is illegal to take photos on their land - snap away.
    There is a mass phot gathering in London on saturday in trafalgar sq at noon

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  3. As a active member of Margate Historical Society and Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group I am amazed that taking pictures as a record to protect out history and record new architectural hitory is being attacked. I have members who I will now have to give membership cards to to explain what they are doing and why, this is so wrong and must be stopped once and for all. We have to have the right to record our history, environment and architecture for posterity.

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  4. I seem to remember we had this problem before,go to- http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page17959
    for the response from No 10

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  5. I think I mentioned some time ago, that you might have this problem, Michael. This is the problem with The Ezekiel Party's Vision for 2026. Westwood Cross is not a 'town centre' despite what TDC might like to portray. It is a privately owned rather seedy shopping mall that moves you on if you photograph, put circulars under car windscreen wipers or try and hand out circulars to fellow citizens asking for their support against China Gateway! This is why it can never and should be even thought of as a 'town centre'. It is a set of businesses that pay low wages in a low wage economy area and recirculate little of the money spent their within Thanet. People neither reside there or walk through it when it is closed. Our High Streets are never 'closed'.

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  6. Their or there, Bertie?
    Reading two menyGoodwinpostings on Strifegottooyew?

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  7. In the 70's I lived and worked in a Communist Hungary. They had restrictions on taking photos in public places. We all laughed at them saying smugly that such a thing could never happen UK. You are allowed to take photos at Westwood Cross and only a pliceman may stop you. Th only thing to stop all this is to fight back.

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  8. selected links of interest:

    http://photographernotaterrorist.org/

    http://www.sirimo.co.uk/2009/05/14/uk-photographers-rights-v2/

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  9. I've always had to get permission first to film (i.e take lots of photos in sequence) in privately owned areas such as shopping malls, so this isn't unusual. It's a fine line as the public is invited into these spaces, yet they remain a private domain. Covent Garden is one such area, surprisingly. Thanet Council actually try and charge for the privilege if you're on TDC property, such as Ramsgate Harbour (you've been warned Michael!).

    On the occasions when I've been refused permission, and it's been essential, I've gone ahead and done it anyway. You just keep rolling until the men in hi vis vests tell you to stop. They can't confiscate your camera and pictures, they don't have the power in law.

    Of course, more and more these days you're moved on because you might be a terrorist threat rofl, but the truth is as long as you're on public ground and you're not causing an obstruction you have every right to snap whatever you want.

    I've actually got quite a few shots of Westwood X which I've obtained by using a pocket sized camera in a, er, subtle manner. I agree with Bertie, though. At the end of the day this really does give the lie to The Duffers' description of Westwood as 'Thanet's new town centre'. It is a private development, full stop.

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  10. Yes ! I would like to congratulate Bertie for his accurate summery of the Westwood Cross situation. We must not stop fighting for the enhancement of Ramsgate Town Centre because of the largest "WC" in the area

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  11. Oops! should be summary. Dont suppose anyone will notice.

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  12. "The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible
    reductions. In this way the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which these changes cannot be reversed."
    Adolf Hitler

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  13. In London Police are using Section 44 of the Terrorism Act to stop and question photographers taking photos of public landmarks. It really is terrible.

    Here's a good link with plenty of information about your rights and links to other examples.

    Back to Westwood Cross though, I have got permission in the past to take photographs up there but have also been quickly attended to if I've been taking photos withour permission too. What can be so wrong about taking photos?

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  14. It's always been that if you are on private property then you must ask permission, if they refuse then your trespassing and can be asked to leave. They cannot ask you to delete the images you've already taken. However once your on public land you can take as many pictures as you like of the same subject, even the security guards in this instance.

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  15. Maybe we should do a mass photo gathering - http://photographernotaterrorist.org/2009/09/flashmob/ any takers?

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  16. Today's BBC news:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8476318.stm

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  17. Sorry about my lack of replies, I was rather tied up yesterday. I suppose in a way I don’t really know what happened here as other people have been allowed to photograph there.

    The WWX management team did ask the security guards for my name when they radioed in to get permission for me to continue photographing and I suppose they must know who I am and what I do.

    If you Google Michael Child then I am the top three matches, two for my bookshop site and one for this blog.

    I can’t really think that my reputation can be so bad that they wouldn’t want me photographing there but would let other people.

    There is also the inference that they don’t trust their own security guards, and that doesn’t make much sense either.

    I think the important thing here is that they can discriminate against one person but not another, in any way whatever, without giving a reason.

    Having said that I hope that they just made some sort of mistake and that I will hear from them so I can go up there and take some photographs, both from a point of view of the historical record and for those people who just can’t get there for one reason or another.

    Thank you all for your support on this one, I never fail to be surprised by the number of people who follow my walks around this area, during which I snap away at just about anything.

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  18. When asked for your name you should have told them it was Peter's... that would have shook them up a bit!

    From everything I've read you are in the clear to take photos, no signs are erected to say you cannot, nothing is posted on the managements website to say it is prohibited and although the land is private trying to prosecute a shopper with trespass would be laughed out of court.

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  19. Funnily enough I always tell people I'm Michael whenever I'm challenged by security!

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  20. Check this out...
    http://photographernotaterrorist.org/2009/09/flashmob/
    and if that fails...
    http://photographernotaterrorist.org/bust-card/

    As if we don't get a hard enough time of it as it is.
    Kim

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  21. It really is rediculous. I would encourage as many people as possible to take their cameras with them when shopping at Westwood Cross. Take as many photos as possible. Particularly of the security guards. Or better still, don't go there at all but shop in Ramsgate, Margate or Broadstairs town centres. (If you can find a shop that's not boarded up.)

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  22. The comment above was not from me by the way (I can spell "ridiculous"!), though agree with it's sentiments.

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