Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Witney Town Council bans LIFE’s pro-life celebration

Further to His Grace’s perspicacious comments about LIFE, it has come to his attention that the charity is 40 years old this year. Apparently they feel this is quite something and so, by way of celebration, they have been trying to organise a fitting festivity to take place in Witney. Why Witney? Well, it appears they wish at some point in the day’s jollities to present a submission to the Prime Minister, whose constituency it of course is, asking that greater care be taken of women’s health – in particular, that women seeking abortion should be warned of possible side effects to their health, and be offered counselling by somebody other than the abortion provider. And who, it should be added, has no financial benefit from performance of said abortion.

LIFE have planned a day of fun and celebration, complete with bouncy castle, craft stalls, music, and a range of speakers. The charity has gone to very great lengths to clear any possible obstacles with the Witney Town Council prior to making the application last October. It was agreed that parking would be organised well away from the proposed site in the centre of the town – an area well used to mass public events of this nature – and every effort taken to avoid disruption to the townsfolk. Everyone appeared happy.

As these things do, the application had to descend to the Hades of council bureaucracy: first to the ‘Amenities Committee’, and thence on to full Council for ratification. Amidst general rejoicing, the organisers thought it was in the bag when, having gone before ‘Amenities’, they were advised by the Town Clerk to obtain the relevant licences. All that was needed then was final sanction from the Council, which was to meet at the end of November last year.

Imagine the dismay, then, when a letter arrived in mid-December saying that permission had been refused. Council members, it was said, had considered the effect of the rally on other users of the recreation ground, and that, combined with the narrow vehicular access, restricted parking facilities within the town, and fears of possible congestion within the centre resulting from the arrival of large numbers of visitors, had made them decide against. No reference was made to other similar events which are regularly held on this land, in particular the ‘Witney Feast’, and the large Fair, both held annually without any adverse ‘effects’ on other users of the recreation ground and no problems at all with ‘narrow vehicular access’. The Council made no offer of an alternative site, and all phone calls, emails and letters since – to discuss the decision and lodge an appeal – have been resolutely ignored.

How can this be? In the absence of fears of public disturbance, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights is binding on public authorities, and protects freedom of expression on political issues and matters of public interest:
Article 10 – Freedom of expression

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.
As far as His Grace is aware, LIFE present no risk to national security; they do not threaten the UK’s territorial integrity or compromise public safety. LIFE do not cause social disorder or crime, and are manifestly concerned with ameliorating the health and morals of others.

So why, in this case, given that Witney regularly hosts similar events, has permission been refused? Could it be that, yet again, the fury of the pro-abortion lobby has functioned to impose an illegal discrimination? If so, what price our much vaunted right to freedom of speech? Indeed, where saving the lives of the unborn is concerned, does it exist at all? LIFE are concerned, as their logo states, with loving life and offering hope. Witney Town Council appear to loathe life and offer nothing but despair – at least to this particular charity.

So, His Grace has a thought. If his readers and communicants believe LIFE ought to be given permission to hold their celebratory event and present their submission to David Cameron, why not write a letter of support to the Prime Minister:

10 Downing St
(email: Office of the Prime Minister)

and copy it to Witney Town Council:

Town Hall,
Market Square
OX28 6AG

And then, of course, once a date for the festivities is agreed, you could even participate and help to celebrate 40 glorious years of LIFE’s outstanding work for the rights of the unborn child, with which the European Convention and Witney Town Council appear not to be remotely concerned.


Blogger The Last (Chance) Dodo said...

Does seem rather an odd decision by Witney Council and at the very least they should be required to offer a full explanation to LIFE.

Has this organisation sought the direct intervention of Witney's MP - even though he will busy with other affairs of State? Or has it directly lobbied local members of the Witney Council?

At this stage it might be premature to conclude the refusal is directly linked to a denial of the right to freedom of expression.

I know from experience that some local events such as annual fairs have rights based on long-standing leasing agreements and contracts that have to be honoured. They are tolerated rather than welcomed. The events you cite may fall into this category.

29 June 2011 at 11:31  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Dodo,

"...all phone calls, emails and letters since – to discuss the decision and lodge an appeal – have been resolutely ignored"

That is not merely unprofesional; it is rude. The charity have clearly attempted to engage with the appropriate authorities and are apparently being denied their legal right to appeal.

29 June 2011 at 11:48  
Blogger I am Stan said...

Your Grace,

I`ve emailed em!, doubt it`ll make any difference though!

29 June 2011 at 11:48  
Blogger The Last (Chance) Dodo said...

Thank you Mr Cranmer, although I was suggesting a more direct route to political representatives and not their bureaucrats.

I will follow your suggestion to email the local MP and the Council as the mission of LIFE is one I fully support.

There is also a link on their website for donations to support their cause if like minded people feel financial support for them is something they might want to consider.

29 June 2011 at 12:01  
Anonymous Andrew Holt said...

Dear Archbishop, the e mail address you supplied for witney Town council is incorrect. This is perhaps understandable in one as ancient as yourself, respectfully, Andy Holt

29 June 2011 at 12:09  
Anonymous PW said...

I have emailed them too. Bombard them with emails (go to their site for their email address)

It seems the Witney area is becoming notorious for lib-left fascism in the mould of Islington.

29 June 2011 at 12:17  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Andrew Holt,

That email address is the one upon their own website:

29 June 2011 at 12:19  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

It's a pity they have revamped their website and removed access to the council minutes from that time.

29 June 2011 at 12:25  
Blogger I am Stan said...

Your Grace,

I pray, that one day soon, an abortion will not only be viewed by all as a shameful sin, but as a murder.

Life should be afforded every assistance by Witney Council, what evil lies within their souls?, what evils stalk their offices that they behave so viciously?.

It makes me shudder and despair to think they could come to such a decision and to lie so blatently, corrupted by evil they are!

@Danjo Yes I too would like to read the minutes, perhaps a FOI request, perhaps there is some shame!

29 June 2011 at 12:49  
Anonymous Dreadnaught said...

"[LIFE]...are manifestly concerned with ameliorating the health and morals of others."

Have the people of Witney complained at this decision? Cranmer does't say because either he doesn't know or it does not suit this particular aspect of his embittered religio-political agenda.

LIFE tried to draw maximum attention to their cause by exploiting the possible chance of compromising the PM in his own constituency and got short shrift.

A cynic may say a clue to the piss-off factor could be in the above quote; surely they are not suggesting that there are more people in Witney desirous of having their health and morals ameliorated than in say in the London borough of Southwark, which has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in the Country? - now that would have made the headlines.

This was going to be nothing other than a cheap shot stunt, using the residents of Witney as stooges in an attempt at compromising Cameron.

That a democratically elected local Council in full session rejects a committee's percieved 'nod' of approval is quite within normal local government procedure, and on this occasion I think that they have done great service to the local electorate.

29 June 2011 at 12:50  
Anonymous carl jacobs said...

"for the protection of health or morals"

I can think of at least two potential legal avenues for restricting this event.

1. A Pro-Life organization is immoral because it seeks to limit (and ultimately eliminate) a woman's autonomy regarding abortion.

2. A Pro-Life organization is unhealthy because a pregnant woman who desires not to be pregnant could become anxious and depressed without access to abortion.

Nice little Human Rights Convention you have there. It has more loopholes than the Soviet Constitution of 1936. Literally.


29 June 2011 at 12:52  
Anonymous uk Fred said...

I have e-mailed both.

I wonder whether a FOI Request for the names opf all who have made representations to the council and the names of the councillors who voted for and against this event might help to crystallise the minds of the decision makers.

29 June 2011 at 12:52  
Anonymous carl jacobs said...

Dreadnaught said...

That a democratically elected local Council in full session rejects a committee's perceived 'nod' of approval is quite within normal local government procedure, and on this occasion I think that they have done great service to the local electorate.

Why then did the Council lie about the reasons for rejection? Why didn't they just say "We don't want those people in our city." Or is lying the normal local government procedure?


29 June 2011 at 13:01  
Anonymous Tanfield said...

Your Grace,
As ukFred says above a FOI request should be submitted asking not only the names of Councillors who voted for/against but also for a copy of the minutes of the discussion that presumably took place and for details of any objections (formal or otherwise) that the Council may have received. On receipt of this legal advice could be taken as to whether any challenge to the decision could be made.

29 June 2011 at 13:10  
Blogger I am Stan said...


You forgot to finish with "and a great disservice to the unborn!"

Didn`t you?

29 June 2011 at 13:29  
Anonymous Graham Wood said...

Dreadnaught said:

"LIFE tried to draw maximum attention to their cause by exploiting the possible chance of compromising the PM in his own constituency and got short shrift."

Dreadnaught appears to be either blind, stupid, or naive.
Cranmer has already explained why 'Life' planned to hold their event in Witney - a fine opportunity to present a submission to the PM.
That appears to be good planning to me.

Secondly, the curmudgeonly Dreadnaught thinks that there is something wrong with a group such as 'Life' "exploiting" their cause by holding it in Witney.
But Dreadnaught - how is the PM "compromised" thereby?

To "maximise" the cause of preserving 'life', especially the unborn, is the most humanitarian action possible.
Mr Dreadnaught - are you able to make a case for opposing 'life'?

The PM constantly parades his credentials for supporting "family values" - let him publicly support those values by welcoming a group which seeks to uphold them on his own doorstep.

29 June 2011 at 14:07  
Blogger bwims said...

The objectives of Life do not meet the objectives of the Cultural Marxists, of which DC appears to be one. They seem to have hit on the idea of multiculturalism as the best way to destroy the status quo, and this will occur most rapidly if the indigenous culture is encouraged to breed as little as possible (unless they are in receipt of state benefit, which makes them pliable) and to import as many muslims as possible (who will naturally breed as quickly as possible).

Quite what the cultural Marxists will do when faced with a large number of muslims indoctrinated in a totalitarian theocratic ideology which appears to run counter to Marxism in just about every way, I cannot imagine. I don't think they have thought their master plan through....

29 June 2011 at 14:07  
Anonymous Dreadnaught said...

Wood -

State your argument by all means, and use what limited understanding you have of human nature - but why you choose to infer blindness as an equivalent affliction as stupidity or naievete, rather betrays your inherent ignorance.

29 June 2011 at 14:24  
Anonymous Dreadnaught said...

CJ - best you ask them yourself.

29 June 2011 at 14:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

YG, human rights are only used to destroy our country, I believe the lawful rebellion have shown our so called public bodies are far from public.

We sometimes think getting out of the EU will be the answer, but alas the fact is the British Government will still be the problem.

Have they got the correct licence?

Ask John Milton "None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but licence"

29 June 2011 at 15:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Rights of the Unborn Child.

Well apparently they don`t have any!.

And anyone proposing that they should have rights is going to be in direct opposition to those with interests in the Abortion Industry.

29 June 2011 at 18:41  
Anonymous tony b said...

It's funny you people argue against human rights, but get you knickknacks in a knot over the rights of the unborn. There's a little inconsistency there don't you think?

29 June 2011 at 19:10  
Anonymous Oswin said...

tony b : above.

For once I'm inclined to agree with you; that is, inasmuch as yes, I might disagree with much of 'human rights' legislation, but prefer to support a woman's right to a choice.

29 June 2011 at 19:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rights and privilages belong to persons, I am unsure what the legality of the unborn personhoods rights should be. Since the person only exists on paper and women with paper shoved up their jumpers are not really pregnant.

Life existed before persons, freedoms are the domain of a conscious life, let freedom reign!

29 June 2011 at 20:09  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

"There's a little inconsistency there don't you think?"
You don't have to believe in human rights to object to killing the helpless or oppressing the vulnerable; i.e to destroying the freedom of another person.

29 June 2011 at 23:35  
Anonymous carl jacobs said...


[B]est you ask them yourself.

I thought it only appropriate to ask you since your explanation for the Council's action assumed that the council had lied.


29 June 2011 at 23:54  
Anonymous Anon said...

English Viking you need to know what Dodo has been saying!!

Anonymous said...
"English Viking presents as a rather obnoxious character but I don't think he means harm at all. In fact I bet he'd be great on a night out with a pint in hand."

WTF is he up to now?

30 June 2011 at 02:38  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Lib/Lab/Con puppet government of the EU has over the last few years rubber stamped “hate crime” legislation which encourages the abolition of “free speech” unless, of course, it supports the liberal-left world view. No opposing view or dissent will be tolerated. Let us be honest. We’ve slipped from democracy in to fascism. We really have.

30 June 2011 at 09:31  
Anonymous Greg Tingey said...

Oh do come ON!

"Life" are an RC-front organisation.
And are, of course not "pro-life" (we all are) they are pro-suffering, like the vile Albanian who took the name "Theresa"

30 June 2011 at 09:56  
Anonymous Budgie said...

greg tingey - the new Dave Spart of the abortion industry.

30 June 2011 at 10:28  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

Greg Tingey said...
"Oh do come ON!
"Life" are (sic) an RC-front organisation.
And are, (sic) of course not "pro-life" (we all are) they are (sic) pro-suffering, like the vile Albanian who took the name "Theresa" (sic)"

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta of Albanian ethnicity and Indian citizenship, spent 45 years ministering to the poor, sick, orphaned and dying of India and other places. She established over 600 missions in 123 countries.

Very pro-suffering! So much so in fact she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her humanitarian work and the Indian Bharat Ratna.

Is LIFE a RC front? I'm not sure they are. And, if so, does it REALLY matter if they are promoting the alternatives to the disgrace that is 200,000 abortions per year in the UK? Can Christians not unite around a common cause?

30 June 2011 at 10:42  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

By the look of it, LIFE is a religious organisation and Catholicism-inspired following the Gospel of Life, though they seem to very carefully avoid religious language on their website.

30 June 2011 at 20:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

' very carefully avoid religious language '

Cannot be Catholics then!

2 July 2011 at 08:41  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"' very carefully avoid religious language '

Cannot be Catholics then!"

Some of the trustees are and some are not. Most if not all are religious. To me it looks like the organisation follows Catholic doctrine. Note the use of the phrase 'natrural fertility management' in "Offering fertility treatment for married couples and women's healthcare and natural fertility management for all." from its mission statement. Is that pulling it out at the last minute? Timing one's sexual romps according to the 'cycles of moon'? Or something else? It also talks about the Gospel of Life in other LIFE-related text, that's from the Pope is it not? I may be wrong but it reads to me that way.

2 July 2011 at 15:53  

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