I was interested to discover that Haringey has a designated free speech area outside of Haringey Library so I put in a Freedom of Information request to find out more:
Dear Mr MacPherson
Re: Freedom of Information Act Request ref: LBH/1978213
Thank you for your request for information received on 4th July 2013, in which you asked for the following information:
I was wondering if you could share with me any documents that explain the purpose and history of the Haringey Free Speech Area, any particular laws that apply to it and the decision to create it (including reference to any similar areas).
My response is as follows:
I understand that the area in front of the library was designated a ‘free speech’ area by the Community Affairs Committee on 23rd November 1982 (minute B638) as a replacement for Spouters Corner (area outside Hollywood Green) which was being redeveloped at the time. I do not however have a copy of the minute which I understand would be held in a Council archive.
It was resolved “that the Central Library forecourt be designated a ‘free speech’ area, excluding use by racist, fascist or sexist groups. The Leader (or Deputy Leader) and the Chair or Vice Chair of Community Affairs Committee to decide in uncertain cases.
There is a difference between ‘public free speech’ use and use of the area by commercially orientated organisations, who should be either excluded or subject to a licence and fee. Anyone outside in this area may not use amplified equipment without specific written permission from the Library.
If you have any further queries, or are unhappy with how we have dealt with your request and wish to make a complaint, please contact the Feedback and Information Team as below. (Please note you should do this within two months of receiving this response.)
Feedback and Information Team
River Park House
225 High Road
Telephone: 020 8489 2550
Derek Pearce Team Leader
Spouters Corner it seems (according to Wikipedia) was more akin to Hyde Park’s speaker’s corner, first used for political meetings in 1867 by the Reform League (a radical movement that worked for votes for all men and a secret ballot). By the end of the nineteenth century it became a place for stump orators (people who would talk about any political issue of their day) and political gatherings which continued until the 1950s and 1960s where it saw CND meetings. It was also a place for hiring workers before Labour Exchanges were introduced in 1910.