Most people would probably agree that Multrees Walk is fairly attractive public space. There’s no traffic, it has a high quality ‘retail experience’, there’s a cafe where you can sit outside and watch life go by. Some of the shops have better than average window displays. Just don’t try and take a photo of it, as overzealous security guards might start threatening you.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=161N9OqFy4E&fs=1&hl=en_US]
The security guards might even follow you down the street demanding you delete your photos.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnTBj01AmDI&fs=1&hl=en_US]
Whilst most people like to feel safe when they go shopping, is it the job of private companies to manage this, and “enforce” laws whenever they want, however tenuous their interpretation or claim to authority? Afterall, there may be “no cycling” signs up at the entrance to Multrees Walk – but there are no signs prohibiting photography in Multrees Walk. One thing that is for certain – there is no general law against taking photographs from public spaces.
As Paul Kingsnorth, writing about “private” public spaces in this article in the Guardian in 2006 puts it:
“In towns and cities all over England, what was once public is now private. It is effectively owned by corporations, which set the standards of behaviour. These standards are the standards that are most congenial to their aim – getting you to buy things. So there will be no begging, no being homeless, no wearing hoodies. There will be no busking, and often there will be no sitting either, except in designated areas. You will eat and drink where you are told to. You will not skateboard or cycle or behave “inappropriately”. And as for political demonstrations – don’t even think about it.”
This description, of a national trend towards building private “malls without walls,” sounds eerily similar to Multrees Walk doesn’t it?
The reaction of the security guards in the clips above is rumoured to have inspired local photographers to mount a peaceful protest to underline that there is no law preventing people from taking photos in public spaces. There is an informal plan to descend upon Multrees Walk enmasse to give it a good photographing at 12.30pm on Monday.
Found via the Edinburgh Reporter