Sunday, April 12, 2015

Has Victoria Atkins Broken the Law? Part 2

A couple of days ago I posed the question as to whether the Tory Parliamentary candidate for Louth and Horncastle could have broken the law.  I like to give folk the benefit of the doubt so assumed that some over-zealous Tory party activist had taken it upon himself to put up some election posters around the roads of Lincolnshire, not realising that there were some rather important laws involved and that he was liable to be prosecuted for a criminal offence.  Victoria herself, being a barrister and upstanding member of the community would have known better and never endorsed such action had she known.

Oh, how naive I am.

One of the Tory activists, who describes himself on facebook as Deputy Chairman Political at Conservative Party, posted a number of photos of the election posters being erected on the verges of Lincolnshire trunk roads.

Now remember that The Highways Act 1980 Section 132 reads:

132 Unauthorised marks on highways. 

(1)A person who, without either the consent of the highway authority for the highway in question or an authorisation given by or under an enactment or a reasonable excuse, paints or otherwise inscribes or affixes any picture, letter, sign or other mark upon the surface of a highway or upon any tree, structure or works on or in a highway is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding £100 or, in the case of a second or subsequent conviction under this subsection, to a fine not exceeding £200. 

(2)The highway authority for a highway may, without prejudice to their powers apart from this subsection and whether or not proceedings in respect of the matter have been taken in pursuance of subsection (1) above, remove any picture, letter, sign or other mark which has, without either the consent of the authority or an authorisation given by or under an enactment, been painted or otherwise inscribed or affixed upon the surface of the highway or upon any tree, structure or works on or in the highway.

And also remember that the advice issued by Lincolnshire County Council to all Parliamentary candidates or their agent read thus:


Here's one of the pictures, which I reproduce here as the public interest is involved:

I think it is reasonable to conclude that Victoria does know about the posters and as a Parliamentary candidate, never mind being a barrister, it is reasonable to suggest that she should be aware of the laws relating to the placement of election posters on trunk roads, especially as they have been so clearly indicated in the guidance sent to candidates or their agents.

Ok, so what?

Well, putting aside for one moment the technicality of breaking the criminal law, there is a rather good reason for being cautious about putting things on roadsides.  At about lunchtime on Saturday I had a phone call from someone on the A153 saying she had seen one of the posters blown away and land on the carriageway.  Fortunately it was flat on the ground when a motorcyclist hit it and rode over it without accident.  It takes little imagination to realise that a tragic outcome was all too possible, but thankfully Victoria is not facing a manslaughter charge.

The police have been informed and they have, in turn, passed the matter to the Highways Agency.  Here's their message to me:

Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

I have this morning informed Highways and the local planning dept who would be the prosecuting agent in these circumstances. The safety of all road users within Lincolnshire is of our primary concern. It is usual in the run up to a general election to have a police liaison officer who is able to offer advice and guidance to political candidates in such matters as this, and today I have informed Supt Taylor who is responsible for neighbourhood policing for this area.

Kind Regards

Insp Michelle Mcilroy


Blogger Sandman said...

Jolly good work - so end all anti-social aggressive tactics and I hope that the momentum of this type of corrective action continues. Because hey - Tories are not above the law.

10:40 am  
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