Ealing Council have become the first local authority in the country to implement a ‘Safe Zone’ to protect women from harassment, intimidation and distress while accessing a Marie Stopes Clinic in the Borough.
It comes after the Cabinet unanimously agreed at a meeting on Tuesday 10th April to recommend the use of a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) to disperse protesters up to a distance of 300m from the clinic on Mattock Lane.
The decision was made after an eight-week public consultation which elicited over 3,700 responses and in which nearly 90% of those respondents local to the clinic agreed with the size and impact of the Safe Zone.
The public consultation followed a petition from over 3,500 local residents, led by Sister Supporter, for action to be taken to tackle the intimidatory practices of certain groups approaching users of the clinic and its staff.
Ealing’s Labour Councillors voted unanimously at a full Council meeting in October 2017 to explore all possible actions, utilising all necessary resources, to prevent anti-choice protesters harassing and intimidating women outside the clinic.
Ward Councillor and Cabinet member, Cllr Binda Rai said:
“This historic decision could not have come soon enough for the vulnerable women, staff members of the Marie Stopes clinic on Mattock Lane. For years they have been harassed and intimidated by organisations with no regard for the position, background or feelings of those they approach.
Nearly 90% of local residents agree that the Labour Council are taking the right course of action in preventing this ongoing blight on our community. It has been a long struggle, but I am proud we have arrived at this decision.”
Council Leader, Cllr Julian Bell said:
“Over the past 6 months Ealing Labour have been leading the way nationwide to protect women from harassment by anti-choice protesters. We have supported local residents all the way through this process, which has included a thorough investigation by the Council and a long consultation period which revealed hundreds of pieces of evidence of anti-social and intimidatory behaviours taking place outside the Marie Stopes Clinic on Mattock Lane.
We know that the decision to implement the PSPO will be met with resistance from well-funded international anti-choice organisations, but I want to reassure users of the clinic, its staff and all local residents that Ealing Labour are confident that the right decision has been taken and we will fight any legal challenge resulting from it.”
You can read the text of the Public Spaces Protect Order, it’s scope and restrictions by clicking here.
You can read the Full Report, including the consultation responses agreed by Cabinet on 10/04/18 under Item 7 on this page.