Brightonhas a reputation forpermissiveness and a liberal, laid-back, independent attitude, butit appears to have taken an uncharacteristically authoritarian approach into what you can and can’t do for free on its beaches and environs.For anyone wanting take pictures or carry out an interview on its beach or in town, the city council has decreed that there is a £200 fee.
Civil liberty campaigners and champions of a free press have expressed bemusement after Brighton & Hove city council tried to charge the fee for working on its beach or other parts of the city. Caroline Lucas , the Green MP for Brighton, has investigated and expressed her concern. Index on Censorship is among the organisations that said the move ran counter to the right to freedom of expression.
Jodie Ginsberg, chief executive of Index on Censorship , said:
Journalists should not be charged in order to carry out their jobs. This runs counter to all the principles that should underpin a free and independent media.
Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors , branded the move outrageous. He said:
Beaches and streets are public places. If local councils are to start charging for reporting the news, it is time someone reminded them that we are supposed to live in a free society.
When the Guardian asked the council again about the policy, its press office said it stemmed from a decision made by the economic development and culture committee in June last year, at which point the council was run by the Green party.
The council approved new fees and charges payable for filming in the city. In 2013-14 the council was paid more than £33,000 for 135 pieces of filming. It agreed to introduce a new structure from 2014-15 that would include an increase in charges and the introduction of a £50 administration charge and hourly rates.