Council to consult over proposed buffer zone outside abortion clinic

The introduction of what is believed to be the UK's first ever buffer zone to stop anti-abortion protesters from gathering outside an abortion clinic has come a step closer.

A cabinet of Ealing council unanimously voted to begin a public consultation on whether introducing a public space protection order (PSPO) may be the most appropriate measure to stop such demonstrations outside a Marie Stopes clinic in the west London borough.

In calling for a safe zone, councillor Binda Rai told the meeting that the protests were forcing vulnerable women seeking a legal treatment to face "emotional hijacking at the point of access" which is clearly not covered by legislation.

Ms Rai, who represents the Walpole ward which includes the clinic, said: "The PSPO outside a Marie Stopes clinic is unprecedented nationally. We know that other councils are watching what we do."

The earliest that the eight-week public consultation could begin is January 29.

A council spokesman said a decision on whether or not to implement a PSPO will only be made once the consultation process has been completed and it is known whether or not the statutory criteria are met, including whether a PSPO will be a necessary and proportionate response to the issues that have been identified.