Manchester

Salford Quays swearing ban scrapped by council

Salford Quays Image copyright Geo/David Dixon
Image caption An order banning swearing in Salford Quays came into force in 2016

Comedian Mark Thomas swore in celebration after hearing a council had scrapped a ban on swearing.

Salford City Council has decided not to continue with the outlawing of foul and abusive language in Salford Quays.

Mr Thomas, who has protested over the use of Public Spaces Protection Orders, said the swearing ban was "ridiculous" and it should never have been imposed in the first place.

The council has not yet responded to a BBC request for a comment.

It is understood the decision was made following discussions with residents and workers in the area, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

The original order, which has now expired, was introduced three years ago in a bid to curb anti-social behaviour.

Those who breached the order by swearing in public spaces could be issued with an on-the-spot fine of up to £1,000.

However, no-one was ever fined for swearing in Salford Quays.

'Chilling effect'

A new order came into force on 25 July but it no longer includes a ban on swearing in public places.

Mr Thomas reacted to the news by swearing when contacted by the BBC.

He described the ban as "the most insane piece of censorship", adding that Public Spaces Protection Orders "enabled councils to bring in draconian legislation and outlaw types of activities and behaviour that were previously legal".

Image caption Comedian Mark Thomas has previously protested over the use of Public Spaces Protection Orders

The decision was described as "a victory for free speech" by human rights campaigners, who previously warned of the "chilling effect on freedom of expression" when the order was imposed in 2016.

Liberty said the order was "unenforceable, vague, and risked having a chilling effect on artistic performers and political activists".

"The right to say what you want should never have been restricted at the whim of council officials in the first place," said the campaign group's lawyer Lara ten Caten.

"This was a prime example of the misuse of Public Spaces Protection Orders and we're glad Salford has seen sense," she added.

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