Looking through the local council by-laws still in force in Islington, I came across this one on spitting:
No person shall spit on the floor, side or wall of any public carriage, or of any public hall, public waiting room, or place of public entertainment.
Aside from the loophole which excludes ceilings from this ban, the by-law does raise two more serious issues. First, like many of the others that are still in force, it is out of date – in this case by limiting the maximum fine to 40 shillings. Second, the wording of the by-laws (which, remember, we’re all meant to obey) are hidden away. You do get some public signs reminding people of the by-laws which apply in a particular place, but by no means all places of public entertainment remind people of the spitting one, for example. They are not available online – which is also the case in many, though not all, other councils. Moreover, as with some other councils, the printed version is in such a fragile state that making electronic copies is a tricky business.
One reason for this state of affairs is that councils used to have to get the approval of the Secretary of State to create or abolish a by-law, meaning that councils tended just to ignore the state of their by-laws. One good thing Eric Pickles is doing, however, is to change that so that councils need only consult their own residents in future rather than him before making changes.