The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG), the UK’s leading voice for riders’ rights, is lobbying Harlow Council for a change in the terms of an injunction directed at preventing anti-social behaviour in the local area. MAG has already been in close communication with the Council, but the issue has yet to be fully resolved.
MAG’s Director of Communications & Public Affairs, Lembit Öpik, has had two meeting arranged – both of which were postponed at short notice by the authority. A new date has been arranged – on16th August – but MAG is concerned this is some time away.
MAG’s Chair, Selina Lavender, has expressed worries that this delay could fuel unrest among the law abiding motorcycling community. Selina says, ‘so far, MAG has been able to secure the patience of riders, on the basis of discussions taking place between MAG and the authority. This is a key reason why Lembit is very keen to have the meeting as soon as humanly possible is to secure meaningful progress in regard to the injunction and its wording so that the matter can be put to rest.’
Selina has written to the authority, asking for the meeting to occur well before the 16th August – more specifically, in the week beginning the 25th July. Selina adds, ‘I am acutely aware of the level of unease the current situation is causing. I’d be very grateful for the local authority’s assistance with resolving the matter as soon as possible.’
MAG will keep the riding community updated on developments as they happen. Lembit says ‘this is a key priority for me, and I’m acutely aware that we simply have to separate the content of the injunction and what the authority is trying to do in terms of dealing with antisocial behavior. The problem isn’t bikers, it’s hooligans who just happen to be using bikes. It’s unfortunate that the injunction appears to discriminate against powered two wheelers, which I know wasn’t the intention. We’ll get this fixed amicably. But it does need to be fixed.’
Update November 2016: MAG has increased the pressure on Harlow Council for a resolution to the on-going dispute about an injunction which bans groups of riders from travelling through the borough at certain times of day.
‘The problem is that while the Council have a real anti-social behaviour problem to deal with in the area, they’ve taken the wrong path to address it,’ says MAG’s Essex representative, John Metcalf. ‘What the injunction actually does is prevent law-abiding riders from going through the town in the daytime, even if there are only two of them. The Council says it won’t enforce the injunction against those who are riding sensibly, but no law which technically illegalises reasonable behaviour is a good law.’
MAG is making another effort to make progress with the officer of Harlow Council, and specifically the legal team there. However, if these talks fail to materialise, then the campaign may move towards more direct action. ‘MAG always prefers to achieve a negotiated solution,’ adds John. ‘But if we continue to find resistance from the local authority in terms of even talking about the options, then the next step is to create a series of events to test the stupidity of these rules. That’s a lot of hassle and potentially embarrassing for the Council, but since this injunction is being repeatedly introduced around the UK, we have to make a stand and put a stop to regulations which outlaw honest biking.’