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A British Council Wants to Ban People from Skateboarding and Climbing Trees

We asked some locals what they think about the proposed anti-fun bylaws.

Where will this young man practice his hobby if Bristol city council's new bylaws are passed?

I can’t think of many social ills that need addressing more than people playing football in an “annoying” way. Thankfully, officials at Bristol city council, UK, have heard the calls of the many thousands out there, who – like myself – believe there should be more laws to prevent people from enjoying themselves. And they've finally decided to do something about it.

The council’s proposed method of policing fun revolves around a ban on a number of activities – including, but not limited to, skateboarding, lighting barbecues, climbing trees, archery and, of course, playing football in an “annoying” way – in more than 200 parks and open spaces. Yes, the suggested new bylaws have already drawn a fair bit of criticism. But, on the other hand, a detailed council report claims they would tackle "antisocial and nuisance behaviours that are adversely affecting our communities".

Archery has been an antisocial nuisance that’s adversely affected my own community for years, so after reading their report I was firmly in agreement with the council. But I wanted to hear some of the criticism firsthand, so I went into Bristol to find some people who’d be directly affected if the new regulations end up being approved.

VICE: Are you glad that the council wants to ban climbing trees and having barbecues in the park?
George: No, I think it's wrong. Doing that stuff is a basic freedom – a right for the local community, you know? It's important to have these spaces. It's, like, take away the barbecue, and what are people going to do, you know?

Not have barbecues in the park, I suppose. But it should be our choice to cook meat wherever we want to, right?
Yeah, that's so true. [These bylaws] are the most farcical thing I've ever heard about.

How do you think these new bylaws would go down if they were introduced?
Charlie:
I think pretty bad.

Why's that?
Because it's bullshit. They can't really ban fucking skating, can they? It's a way of life.

Do you understand where they’re coming from, though?
I guess so. But they’re dickheads; they don’t skate, so they don’t know.

Fair enough.

What have you been up to this afternoon?
Ollie:
Just walking around with my friends and climbing trees and stuff. It's my day off – I want to express myself.

Have you heard about the new bylaws the council are trying to introduce that would ban the climbing of trees? 
Yeah, I think they're stupid; we’re formed from monkeys and chimps, after all. Climbing trees is so natural.

Can you see why it would be seen as a public nuisance?
I don't think it's a nuisance at all. It would only be a nuisance if I was doing it in an offensive manner, but it's not causing any harm the way I'm doing it now.

If the bylaws went into effect, do you think that would provoke you into climbing more trees?
I don't know about that, but it definitely wouldn't stop me. I think there would be a strong reaction against the laws; people would want to climb trees more.

What would you do if the council banned skating?
Niall: I think it’d be a bit unfair. I'm not from Bristol, but I come here to skate. Bristol is a city with a lot of culture and art, and skating is a part of that. 

Where do you think the animosity towards it comes from?
It's obviously a bit of discrimination. They're probably coming from a place where they don’t want to work with us to improve [skate facilities] and sort something out. But the bylaws wouldn't work anyway – there are too many young kids skating; they couldn't arrest everyone for doing it.

The council might ban playing football in an "annoying" way in public parks. What do you think about that?
Rob:
 Well, if there’s no park to play in, where are we going to go? The streets?

Yeah, and I imagine you'd be more of a nuisance there, what with all the cars and prams and stuff.
Yeah. I can understand the barbecue ban because it's a fire hazard. But I don't get a ban on playing football.

If the council bans all ball games in public parks, is there not a risk that everyone in Bristol could become obese? Or at least a bit podgy?
Yeah, there could be. For some people, playing football in the park is how they socialise and stay fit.

Exactly.

Have you ever been offended by someone having a barbecue?
No, not at all – it's a pretty communal thing to do. Why would I be offended?

I guess the burn patches on the floor, or something?
[Laughs] If you're worried about that then your life's not worth living. A park is made for that sort of thing – for people to socialise and stuff.

Are you a neutral party? Do you have any business interests in barbecues?
No, but I like them. I'd like to have one here at College Green, actually.

What would you do if the council banned skating?
Joss: I’d kick off. I’ve got nothing else to do! I got kicked out of college and skating's what basically keeps me together. In the summer, skating and having barbecues is what keeps me happy. And we're not causing any harm. I can see people fighting against it if they tried to introduce the bylaws.

Do you think it's unfair that there's not even a brief mention of banning inline blading?
Yeah, I think it's stupid. It's like racism.

Okay. Thanks, Joss.

Follow Theo on Twitter: @theocottlephoto