is the ancient art of disseminating
information to the public on glossy or poorly photocopied pieces of
paper known as Flyers
Flyering is the
unromantic grunt work embarked upon by promoters (and
their employees) and political activists (and their potential
potentates) in streets, squares and shopping centres the world
disseminate information about events and to express opinions to other
people in a concise holdable format on (usually) a single A4 or A5
piece of paper. It is an effective way of targeting people who
regularly utilise (but do not live in) a particular area.
Flyerers are the annoying bits of human spam that try to give you
pieces of paper as you wander from A to B.
Square is the tourist heart of London.
To quote the Council Themselves
boasts the greatest concentration of creative industries in the
country, employing more than 64,000
people, with a turnover of £14.9 billion. The creative
industries contribute to London’s "buzz" which strengthens
Westminster’s position in the international labour market, and also has
a positive effect on other sectors such as tourism and leisure,
helping to attract inward investment."
People flock to it in
search of entertainment - many of them not knowing exactly what kind of
entertainment they want. As it attracts a lot of tourists with
money to burn in their pockets it
naturally attracts a similarly large number of promoters and their
flyerers attempting to tempt them to dispose of their income.
Here is a picture of Charlie Chaplin who started out as an open spot at
Pear Shaped in 1901 flyering passing tourists in order to try to get
them to visit a poorly attended open mike night to facilitate him in
learning his trade...
Some comedy clubs who
operate round Leicester
Square have been moaning in the media recently that
they have having some problems with Westminster council being extremely
officious about comedy and other promoters flyering in Leicester
Square. Basically telling them that they can't do this at all
which is complete
nonsense and probably illegal too.
We would like to encourage readers to read
which explains the issues more cogently than we can and
sign the petition
While I am the first to admit
there are problems with the comedy "industry" ...
...it is completely unreasonable for Westminster City Council to try
and tell all promoters they
can't flyer at
Of course authorities love flyering when their message is boring so
presumably this is a case of
as we say not as we do"?
Flyering is one tool in
the Promoter's armoury and it is something that has always been part of
industries. It also creates much casual employment for those that
should I give a toss about this
About 1/3 of ticket sales at some clubs round Leicester
Square are last
minute to tourists.
Some clubs put on open spots faster if they are prepared to work as
flyerers - at others the job of flyering is done by people hired
specifically for that purpose. And some clubs cant be bothered at
all - like us ... as although it can increase the number of people
coming through the door the more flyerers you send out the more the
cost of hiring them eats into your bottom line.
Now there are some famous (or infamous) people who exploit the goodwill
of the public such as Mr Greedy who charges a tenner to put on the
least expensive acts he can find and simply pockets the cash. But
most promoters are respectable and honest and do actually fulfil an
important role of bringing people into licenced premises that are
having a very hard time attracting custom at the moment.
Particularly now the supermarkets are engaged in a booze throat-cutting
you are a comedian
It's not exaggeration to
say that if things go
on like this many venues will at the least lose staff and at worst
close. Promoters will be less likely to be able to find venues to
work from. Fewer gigs will start up and there will be less gigs
and less employment.The people who will ultimately suffer the most are
the new acts as
establish acts will be spread about fewer gigs and fewer clubs making
it harder to climb the ladder. Without promoters to bring in
punters even more pubs and bars will close meaning there will be less
places to put gigs on in.
So What can I do?
Please help us by suggesting to Westminster City Council that they are
bit heavy handed and there is a trade off between putting up with
having to sweep up some fliers and the increased revenues going into
pubs. Which lets face it...
...are having a pretty hard time already - as Andrew
with the help of a soap star and a human pint glass... If you want some
It's harder than ever to get people in pubs and clubs since
supermarkets have long been using booze as
their main loss leader
So you may consider...
Raising the issue with your MP
It is easier than ever to pester your MP by electronic mail using the
Enter your postcode and
this website will tell
you who your MP is and allow you to email them direct. You can
also complain/bother your London Assembly Members and if you have a
club within the precincts of Leicester Square or
Westminster it can also give you contact details of your local
responsible councillor. This is useful general information for
anything your wish to moan about.
If you are so minded you can also complain to Westminster City council
using this form
You may wish to reference Mr Mulholland's artical. The URL of
Remember, you may be ignored, but if you dont speak no one will hear.
If you are a Promoter
Westminster Council actually do have a point with regards to some of
the more unethical promoters who lean on their flyerers to behave
aggressively. The overly aggressive distribution on flyers does
not of its self increase a clubs turnover. If promoters cannot
regulate themselves eventually the politicians will do it for us -
probably in the
most heavy handed insensitive, ignorant manner.
Then again, can we blame
them for being ignorant if we never talk to them?
In an attempt to create
something more akin to a dialog and less like a series of protracted
vicious arguments (punctuated by hilarious misunderstandings) between
promoters and the local authority we would like to encourage any
promoter who has a gig within the Central London area (not specifically
Westminster) to turn up in person to the various pub watch
meetings and ask difficult questions... These are only held once
month on Wednesdays so it
really shouldn't be a huge drain on anyone's time to turn up now and
If you are wondering what
the "Heart of London" is it is your local BID.
A business improvement district
) is a public-private
in which businesses in a defined area pay an additional tax or fee in
order to fund improvements within the district's boundaries. BIDs
in England and Wales are funded by a levy on the occupiers rather than
the owners of the properties within the area. If voted in by local
businesses, the BID levy is an extension to existing non-domestic
business-rates. the devolution of limited political authority to
the private boards of these districts effectively privatizes the public
spaces of the city. In answer to the Comedy Store's assertion
that they do not see Pear Shaped or any other Promoters represented on
the Heart of London BID we would point out that we have tried to invite
ourselves to their meetings but although vast amounts of taxpayers'
money has are channelled into the promotion of the BID companies'
directors business interests whilst their competitors has been left
unsupported we suspect that despite being forced to pay a BID levy,
membership of the Heart of London BID requires the approval of its
directors - this can be witheld as in the case of the Plymouth City
BIDs have come under increasing criticism that they are a method of
Privatising Public Space and perform functions such as policing which
innocent members of the public like the Women's
probably still believe are financed through the
rates. They in effect have their own police forces - like the
over whom they have direct financial and political control who's job it
is to monitor the movement of people within the Heart of London area
and make sure that under no circumstances should anyone like Tom Cruise
meet anyone like Dizzy High...
you live around the borders of Westminster
These are the Business
Police - they are here to make sure that if you do risk your own money
promoting or running a small business then your small business is kept
small. They are the deletion of the traditional system of policing by consent and you will only find them in
areas of commercial shopping activity not West
In contradiction to Sir Robert Peel's...
... belief that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime
and disorder not
the visible evidence of police
action in dealing with it, they seek
constant and maximum visibility at all times even writing to me
personally to tell me that they need to hang out down the bottom of my
Of course if you told the public upfront that you were going to
Privatise Public Space and the Police they'd probably tell you to get
stuffed so these changes have been introduced piecemeal over the last
five years local authority by local authority using Salami
in an attempt to Nationalise the Promoting Industries by
stealth and delete any eccentrics.
most massive changes in the public right to access public space
since the Enclosure Acts of the 1850s
forced people off farms and into the cities
are stealth legislation cunningly concealed in minor pieces of
like Environment Acts and Local Government Acts ...hived off to local
government to implement -
local Government's job is to take the blame for all the most unpopular
Specifically to avoid
PUBLIC DEBATE OR LOBBY GROUPS FORMING UNTIL IT IS TOO LATE!
While we would not
pretend that there are no problems associated with
flyering including aggressive flyerers and possible increases in
litter... at the end of the line if Westminster City Council are overly
this will not stop promoters promoting - many of the worst promoters
will simply move to another area ….
...where the local
council is more
understanding/naive depending on your viewpoint.
is one of the nearest such areas - In theory I could send a whole team
of flyerers to work Leicester Square and there is absolutely nothing
Westminster Council could do to stop me because I'm 500m outside their
remit...? This also means I can say anything I like about
without fear of political retribution. They are twits.
There, I said it.
The results may be firstly that Westminster will simply lose revenue to
other parts of London
and secondly this NIMBY driven legislation may make ALL Westminster’s
most unscrupulous promoters move to other areas where any associated
antisocial activity and litter problems will become YOUR problem and
your local council is
unlikey to have a turnover of £14.9 billion
to pick up
any extra fliers with.
The result will be one by
one ALL local councils will be forced to ban
flyering because adjoining authorities already have so even more
promoters are flocking to the ever fewer local authorities left
that dont constantly
of Licence Revocation or
This is ALREADY happening...
Westminster Council are not alone in wanting to control Flyering.
Brighton already has a licensing system in place for flyering
(a snip at £150 a year).
system is implemented under
existing legislation as explained by this FOI
and is highly controversial resulting in protest groups
and venue closures
and accusations that it restricts freedom of expression
and is in effect a
also has a complete flyering ban although political and religious
organisations are exempted
that is not enforced
against large multinationals with access to legal
representation but against small time promoters wanting to break into
the market and/or put on riskier ventures. It has also been
attacked on the grounds that none of the money
generated by the licensing system is financially reinvested in clearing
up the litter it allegedly creates.
Of course since the advent of Free
the amount of free distributed paper is larger than ever
before. But you wont see anyone campaining to ban these ....
...because they are a
form of social expression over which politicians can exhibit political
Leicester City Council have already implemented a full flyering ban but
have had some problems with the obvious illogicality of trying to host
a comedy festival at which no one can flyer - which
has led to something of a U-turn
- insanely they let visiting promoters flyer during festivals while
preventing local promoters flyering at all ....where is the social
In Newcastle, there's a bit of council legislation that means you have
to have a license to hand out free literature. The permit costs
£45 a day.
I could go on but you get the point ... it's a nice little earner for
the local authority
A totally arbitarily rated Promoter Tax
in effect an entertainment specific Jobs
So be Warned
It's not Just London
It's not Just Us
Many flyering bans also extend to
political and religious organisations
According to Brighton and Leicster Councils's they don't but
that stop people being arrested?
mean, does it?
At the moment political organisations may be protected under the
Human Rights Act
for how long...?!
you are a politician / pressure group
You may find come
the next election you cannot flyer to express
your views or you have to pay the local council for a licence or that
your activists are prosecuted simply for handing out bits of
paper. Or you are stopped by policemen for handing out flyers...
Flyering is also a popular method of political expression - To prove
which here's a picture of Mary Honeyball Labour MEP doing her
and boring a person in Greenwich
and for balance here's a picture of a lot of smug Tories
inflicting leaflets on people who've gone out for the day to avoid
canvassed at home.
And just so they don't feel left out here are some Liberal Democrat
...I think you can make up
your own punchlines to this one.
If you think people cant be arrested for the dissemination of political
flyers in a democracy, here's a picture of Kenya Suzuki....
...Suzuki was arrested at Nakano Station in central Tokyo in July,
2008, for flyering and spent 8 months in prison as a result?
leaflets and flyers...
Of course even if
political flyering is exempted that does presuppose
that a direct straight line can be drawn between artistic political
expression that is self funding through being interesting enough to
sell tickets and party political expression that is so fundamentally
boring it constantly seeks new and innovative ways of taxpayer subsidy
in order to perpetuate its self. It pre-supposes anything that
politicians or the state has to say is automatically more important
than what comedians have to say even when clearly no one wants to pay
to hear it.
So... in an attempt to make Pear Shaped more political in order to
make our flyers boring and political enough to qualify for central
government subsidy and important enough to be distributed on the
streets without fear of political persecution this article will now
expand to examine political flyering and leafleting, how it is paid for
and it's cost to the ecconomy and democracy...
In the era of the
TV debate and
the Twitterati and Arsebook it is easy to forget that the single most
important and expensive tool in the politician's arsenal is good old
fashioned direct mail flyer (or so they think). Political parties
soap brands must (or feel they must) maintain their brand image by
constant exposure and relentless repetition - the thud thud thud thud
thud thud of crap on my doormat... Yes, the legislation has been very
careful to make sure that MY
is not treated with the same respect at the street
political flyers land on doormats and not the street that's okay?!?
Surely the result
(someone has to pick this lot up and throw it in the bin) is the same?
because of the sheer volumes concerned (see below)
us not forget political
flyering is expensive!
one of the biggest expenses political parties have to pick up
they talk about the extra litter collection costs created by
they should consider the extra cost in man hours to home owners
in marginal constituencies
picking up their relentless stream of fliers off my doormat.
to the Labour Party's website:
£5 - pays for leaflets for
£50 - pays for leaflets for
£500 - pays for direct mail
to 2000 voters
etc etc etc
Up until November 2009
they could get £10,000
of propaganda printed for free by the tax payer. This was abolished in
the aftermath of the expenses scandal ...
One of the most famous examples of the abuse of the communications
allowance came via previous Croydon Central Labour
...who infamously managed
bill £38,750 for postage
which caused even
disgraced ex-speaker Michael "turn a blind eye" Martin to wonder that
Other famous exploiters of the Communications Allowance included
Ann McDonagh's £126,833 on postage alone in the four year period
2003 to 2006,
an average of almost £32,000
When adding in stationery
costs, her expenditure was close to
£50,000 in both 2004-05 and 2006-07 McDonagh sent 120,000 letters
in one year alone - 800 for every sitting day of Parliament.
An impressive letter every 2 minutes
every hour of the day... she must have some serious RSI
Needless to say the allegations and counter allegations for the
inventive use of Commons Stationary were endless... Despite
the Conservatives determination to scrap the allowance Cameron himself
for £2,200 last year and George Osborne...
now our new expenditure cutting chancellor spent £9,965
nearly the maximum.
Still it's gone now! (To
be replace by another smaller £4000 grant?)
All this was on top of the already ridiculous sums spent by the main
parties on propaganda.
In 2008, when local Tories
as their election choice for Croydon Central my own marginal
constituency, spending leapt massively
Of which £23,577
was spent on directly
pushing Barwell ...
in an estimated 300,000
flyers and leaflets
times more than the entire London Comedy Circuit Produces
in a year
That's 3 leaflets per voter per year (assuming all voters are targeted
and it's not just all sent to the ones that are on the
Effect on Democracy of
Almost LIMITLESS Political
Of course, these huge volumes of printed matter have made All the
parties ever more dependent on a few big donors like Lord Ashcroft (the
Conservative Party's biggest donor)
£10,000 directly to Pelling (Mr
's 2005 campaign - mostly, you've
guessed it, for flyers.
set up his own fund to finance the saturation direct mail flyering of
- in reality, he was
running an independent political operation to maintain his hold on the
Conservative Party. When
Cameron became party leader he absorbed
Ashcroft’s wife was the biggest donor to David Cameron’s campaign
Conservative Party leader)
...deciding he'd rather have
Ashcroft on the Inside than the Outside.
the control of large donors over the parties has got stronger in an
attempt to produce ever more and more printed propaganda so has the
number of bitter deselection battles as activists
have lost the power to select their own
candidates and political party membership shrinks - an important power
in effectively a two and half party system - the effect of First Past the Post....?
officials insist that Ashcroft (the Party Chairman up to the general
election) has "no role and no
influence" in shaping Conservative policy despite his presence
William Hague's side
at meetings but really who
control on policy its self when you have almost direct control/veto on
who the Candidates in almost every marginal constituency will
be....? All of which sits oddly with Mr Cameron's claim that he's
of how to run things. It's not an accident we have
organisations like COPOV
pressure group or the Labour equivalent CLPD
trying to explain and prevent the gradual centralisation
of political power
. And for balance here's a picture of the
Labour party's non-dom
equivalent to Lord A, Lord Paul
....who I'm sure also has no say on policy either as Labour is a
bombarding people with endless Direct Mail flyers actually work?
Of course to sort all
this out we have the Electoral
...... a body that draws up
rules but has no actual physical control over
how Local Authorities implement elections till it's all cocked
up - in
case you are wondering why your polling station ran out of ballot
papers and staff. You may think there are limits on
Electoral Spending? There are.... But while the spending
rules during a campaign are very stringent... the rules between
elections are much more lax. However, not lax enough for the
Good question. It's
actually very debatable as despite their
"target seats" campaign the largest swings to the Conservatives seem to
be in the constituencies where they did no campaigning at all and the
smallest in those they saturate with propaganda. Maybe we're not as
stupid at they all think we are.... I think it was Frank Branston
Independent elected Mayor of Bradford who said
Let us not forget the important military applications of
flyering. If you think London, Brighton, Leicester or Edinburgh
during the festival has a litter problem spare a thought for the people
of Afghanistan. The M129E1/E2 Psychological Operations Leaflet
Bomb weighs 200 pounds and can disperse some 60,000 to 80,000 leaflets
which are scattered by a length of detonator cord... except when it
fails to detonate and falls on top of a little girl squashing her to
the thickness of a flyer...
Perhaps the days of the
civilian flier as a Promotional tool are over.
Clearly civilians cannot be trusted with such a dangerous military tool.
Psychological Operations should be preserved for war.