Decision Maker Response
Sadiq Khan’s response
Jul 27, 2018 — Dear Petitioner
Thank you for contacting the Mayor of London about the blimp at Parliament Square Garden.
The UK, like the USA, has a long and rich history of the right and the freedom to protest, freedom of speech and freedom to assemble.
Parliament Square is a site used for protests on all kinds of issues across the centuries – it is an important assembly point at the heart of our democracy.
The city operations team at the Greater London Authority (GLA), as is usual procedure, met with the organisers of this protest and gave them permission to use Parliament Square Garden as a grounding point for the blimp.
The city operations team at the GLA have the power to approve use of the gardens as long as a number of criteria are met, such as liability insurance alongside a full health and safety risk assessment by the GLA’s independent consultants. Only once all of this information had been collated and submitted were the city operations team able to review and authorise the use of Parliament Square Garden.
The organisers also had to separately seek the necessary approvals from the Metropolitan Police and National Air Traffic Service, which they did.
Whilst the Mayor has always supported the right to peaceful protest and understands that this can take many different forms, he was not involved in the decision at all. It was made by the city operations team at the GLA.
It is important to realise it is not the Mayor’s or GLA’s role to act as a censor, or the arbiter of what is or isn’t a good protest, it is the GLA’s job to assess whether it can be done safely, legally and peacefully.
Thank you again for writing to us.
Public Liaison Unit