A large anti-Israel banner, displayed on the side of a property in Luton has been removed, as a result of complaints from UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) and the Luton Jewish community.
The banner was put up in April 2022 at 529 Dunstable Road, Luton, very close to Luton’s United Synagogue. The banner contained inflammatory, misleading and distressing slogans including “stop Apartheid Israel” and “one Palestinian child abducted every 3 hours”
UKLFI advised the Luton Community and assisted it to draft a letter to the council in April 2022, soon after the banner was displayed.
UKLFI pointed out that the banner’s display would need planning permission and that it should be removed if permission had not been obtained. UKLFI also explained that banner was misleading and its display was offensive and alarming to members of the Jewish community, who were very concerned that it would encourage hostility and possibly violence against them.
In April 2022 the council wrote to the landowners to ask them to remove the display but they failed to do so. UKLFI was contacted several times the following month by concerned members of the public.
On 3 June UKLFI wrote to Luton Council informing them that the banner had still not been removed some 6 weeks after they became aware of it. UKLFI pointed out that as well as being a flagrant violation of planning law, the massive banner was mendacious and inflammatory and promoted antisemitism which could result in violence. UKLFI also pointed out that the Public Sector Equality Duty in section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 requires the Authority to have due regard in the exercise of its functions to the need to foster good relations between persons of different ethnicities, nationalities and religions. In accordance with this duty, it should treat this matter as a high priority, given the serious prejudice to community relations caused by this inflammatory banner.
Luton Council explained that the homeowners had not followed Luton’s initial instruction to take the banner down voluntarily, so Luton Council was preparing the case for prosecution. They would ensure that the prosecution file was forwarded to the magistrates ASAP. They clarified that the planning action against the banner advertisement was as a result of its size and presence on the dwelling house and its contravention of advertisement regulations – not in relation to its content.
On 13 June Luton wrote to UKLFI to confirm that the banner had been removed.
Jonathan Turner, chief executive of UKLFI commented: “We are pleased that the inflammatory banner has now been removed, because it breached planning law and that Luton were prepared to prosecute the offending householder in order to remove it.”