Ealing council has moved to prevent repetition of recent clashes between pro-life and pro-choice campaigners, outside the Marie Stopes Clinic in Mattock Lane.
A unanimous vote by the council, the first of its kind in the UK, blocked protestors from standing within 100 metres of the site via a PSPO, in what Richard Bentley, the managing director of Marie Stopes UK, referred to as a “landmark decision for women”
Women using the clinic had been subjected to harassment and pressure on their way in and out during recent months. The incidents ensured that 3,500 consultees responded, contributing to what councillor Binda Rai stated was the biggest single response to a consultation in Ealing.
Elizabeth Howard, a representative for the anti-abortion campaigners, referred to a “sham consultation” producing a response she had “expected”
Following the meeting, the council leader, Julian Bell, said he felt the cabinet had done absolutely the right thing. He said:
“I believe that this is something that’s long been needed, so it feels good that we are breaking the ground with this and leading the way. So I’m proud that we are doing it.
“I’m, personally, a practising Christian myself and so I think it’s important to recognise that this is about protecting women from harassment and intimidation. We’ve always been clear that that’s what this was about. It wasn’t a debate for or against abortion.”
Rupa Huq, the Labour MP for Ealing Central added that:
“Tonight’s decision is not about the length of time or number of weeks to set limits or any of that but rather keeping women safe who have decided to go through with that process. I am delighted that he has lent his support to this campaign”
Manchester City, Richmond and Lambeth Councils are all considering their options in light of the recent vote.
The zone comes into effect in 10 days time.