Happy Mondays maraca-shaker Bez has added his voice to the criticism of Salford Council’s decision to illegalise swearing around swanky Salford Quays.
The legendary dancer has joined critics of the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), which prohibits the use of foul language in a specific area, meaning if one is caught turning the air blue then they face a cool £90 on-the-spot fine.
And Bez – who ran for MP in Salford and Eccles at the 2015 general election – labelled the decision a ‘direct attack on freedom of speech.
He told MM: “It’s a step too far to attack the sensibility of freedom and choice and deciding whether or not it’s appropriate to swear in one’s life.
“It’s a direct attack on freedom of speech!
“I grew up being taught to respect the environment that you’re in, if it’s not right to be swearing, you don’t swear.
“But I still think that swearing should be a personal choice because it’s a part of the English language.
“I agree with the idea that if you swear there’s a lack of command of the language but I also think that some occasions warrant being sworn at.
“I think to pass a law that says you’re not allowed to do something that attacks personal choice is, to me, an erosion of our freedoms.
“It’s an example of corporate rule and dictatorships, things can only get worse.”
The PSPO was introduced by the council in August 2015 after complaints against anti-social behaviour.
The area, known as a go-to route for football fans heading to and from Old Trafford, has supposedly been host to several acts of antisocial behaviour.
The order will also protect the areas in and around MediaCity, with the corporations within, according to Bez, having a part of play, as well as the Labour Party that controls the council.
He said: “It’s the threat of the corporations!
“They’re taking a ‘higher than thou status’ when the likes of the BBC protected (Jimmy) Savile and other paedophiles for so many years – who are they to tell us what is and isn’t appropriate behaviour?
“Considering Labour is supposed be the workers party and considering where the Quays are located right in the heart of the working class area then come on, what is happening to society today where we are now taking away the choice of when we can swear?”
Civil rights group Liberty have also been very critical of the PSPO, claiming that Salford City Council’s decision has a ‘chilling effect’ on freedom of expression.
They have also criticised the unclear parameters set by the council as to what language can be deemed as ‘foul’.
Rosie Brighouse, Legal Officer for Liberty, said: “This is a staggering example of the misuse of a Public Space Protection Order – so vaguely worded it’s impossible for anybody to know whether they’re in danger of breaking the law.
“The right to say what we want should not be restricted at the whim of council officials, able to issue fixed penalty notices on the basis of a poorly defined legal order.
“Without the freedom to offend, real freedom of expression cannot exist.”
Image courtesy of ITV, via YouTube, with thanks