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HomeMore NewsClinic in Ealing continues to get protection from activists

Clinic in Ealing continues to get protection from activists

Ealing Council has voted to renew a public spaces protection order (PSPO) for another three years, meaning it will run until at least 2027. The PSPO sets out a 150-metre safe zone on Mattock Lane around a clinic that has faced protests from pro-life and pro-choice activists.

The order first came into force in 2018 after patients of the clinic, their families and council officers witnessed behaviour that cabinet member Cllr Jasbir Anand described as “very damaging”. She presented the proposed renewal of the order which is due to expire in April to the cabinet last week (February 7).

It is the first of its kind in the UK and attempts to strike a balance between the human rights of protesters and protecting possible vulnerable visitors to the clinic, as well as their families, local residents and staff. The council’s decision marks the second time the order has been renewed.

Its decision was informed by an 8-week consultation which received 2,165 responses.  Of those responses, 97 per cent said the order should be renewed for another 3 years. The order means that protesters could be fined or face prosecution for carrying out activities within the zone.

During the cabinet meeting, Cllr Anand said that this did not prohibit people from expressing their views in a designated area. She stated: “People continue to congregate and engage in abortion-related prayer, vigil and protest. Six years later this area has continued to be used almost every day by pro-life groups.”

When the PSPO was first introduced it was challenged in the court with the High Court ruling in favour of the council and the Court of Appeal upholding the decision. However, Cllr Peter Mason did mention concerns around new statutory guidance that could possibly the PSPO’s enforcement in the future.

Cllr Anand, the council’s cabinet member for tackling inequality, says she believes that the PSPO has worked as intended his far. She said: “The PSPO has most definitely had the effect of significantly improving the quality of life of local people.

“It continues to protect our residents, clinic staff and users of the clinic from the kind of unacceptable intimidation and interference they previously had to endure.”

Council leader Peter Mason added: “The decision to extend the public space protection order at Mattock Lane we took this week will ensure that we continue to ensure the safety and freedom of local residents. Women should feel safe in the borough.

“The Mattock Lane safe zone was introduced in response to detailed evidence that the activities of protesters outside the clinic had a detrimental effect on the quality of life and meant that women using the clinic, its staff and local people felt unsafe.”