Sunday, 2 July 2017

Processions vs Pedestrians

Picture: TSPL
Photo from The Scotsman and TPSL

I don't have any interest in Orange Walks, with their non-inclusive, sectarian ways, but I do object to their marching bands behaving as if they own the public highway.  

So I decided to do something about it after my experience yesterday - and here's my letter to the Leader of Glasgow City Council, Cllr Susan Aitken which has been copied to my local councillor, other local politicians and the Chief Constable of Police Scotland.

Let's see if it has any effect.

1 July 2017

Dear Cllr Aitken

Glasgow Orange Walk - Saturday 1 July 2017

I would like to register a complaint about the stewarding and policing of the Orange Walk in Glasgow earlier today.

I left my house to do some shopping in town at 11.20am and planned to cross the High Street at Glasgow Cross, as normal.

Unfortunately, I could not cross the road because of the Orange Walk which I knew about already, of course, but I waited patiently for a break in the procession so that I could go about my business in town. 

After several minutes and with no sign of an opportunity to cross, I spoke to a police officer who said I would need to wait until the procession stopped or until the whole thing was finally over which seemed completely absurd to me, but rather than make a big fuss I set off for Morrisons on Barrack Street to pick up a few things.

Fifteen minutes or so later I returned to the corner of High Street and Bell Street with the intention of continuing my journey into town, but again my path was blocked by the procession and looking further up the High Street there was no sign of a police vehicle or likely pause in the line of marching bands.

So I decided that 'enough was enough' and that I would cross the High Street to continue on my route into town, in between two of the bands which had come to a halt nearby. As I did so one of the band's uniformed members tried to accost and prevent me from crossing the road, but I avoided his rather ungainly and unsuccessful attempts to block my passage, so to speak, before arriving safely on the other side of Bell Street a few seconds later.

I spoke to a police officer on the west side of Bell Street and shared  my experience to him in the hope that he would feed this back to his senior officers. The officer told me that occasional police vehicles accompanying the marchers were supposed to stop the march periodically to allow pedestrians cross the road at sensible intervals.

But if this policy was in operation on the day, then I have to say it was not working properly; in effect, the rights of local Glasgow citizens to go about their normal business, without undue interference, took second place to the Orange Walk - a case of the tail wagging the dog, if you ask me. 

So my suggestion is that these processions should be stopped at regular intervals, at designated crossing points which are under the visible control of the police, so that local citizens and other pedestrians can go about their business.

In my experience, the 'system' that was in operation on Saturday plainly did not work and, left to their own devices, the organisers of the walk and their marching bands seem to think that they - not the police - are in charge of the public highway.

I am copying this letter to my local councillor (Greg Hepburn), MSP (John Mason) and MP (Alison Thewliss) as well as the Chief Constable of Police Scotland (Philip Gormley).

Kind regards

Mark Irvine