THE GREATER London Assembly (GLA) wants to introduce new byelaws for Trafalgar and Parliament Squares, which would make expensive permits required for commercial photography and filming. Photographers doing news and PR shoots in Trafalgar Square report sporadic hassle by English Heritage "wardens" - to whom enforcement of the existing byelaws seems to have been devolved. Wardens seem to go for shoots involving models or equipment such as lighting rigs and tripods. People who look like tourists are left alone.
The NUJ received assurances from then Mayor of London Ken Livingstone that news photographers would be allowed to go about their business, but the proposed new bylaws are unclear on the distinction between newsgatherers and crews shooting feature films or advertising. Freelance Organiser John Toner is taking up the matter with the GLA.
The byelaws are not yet "confirmed" by the Department of Culture. Objections are invited to the restrictions on newsgatherers before 29 February: see squaresconsult.notlong.com. Members attending any hustings ahead of May's London mayoral elections may wish to question candidates.
Meanwhile in Bristol, the NUJ reports a meeting with the city council's Bristol Film Office (BFO) about paid-for permits which it is demanding from photographers on all PR photoshoots in the city. While the BFO officer does not make the final decision, she seemed positive. The Freelance would be interested to hear of any other issues around permits required by councils for photography.