Police terrorise Vauxhall tourists



Vauxhall Cross Bus Station, Photo ©Arup Associates

(Click photograph to see more photographs of the Vauxhall Cross Bus Station on the Arup Associates website.)

Vauxhall Cross bus station is glorious! It combines a bold modern design with carefully thought out functionality providing easy interchange between rail, underground and bus services. Its designers, Arup Associates, display their pride in their achievement on the company’s own website.

The canopy is a landmark and an urban sculpture. By night it becomes an animated floodlit beacon. It is a place of function designed as an object of attraction and a symbol of urban regeneration.

Jonathan Glancey, the Guardian’s architectural correspondent, waxes lyrical about the building.

The latest building by Arup Associates isn’t – though it might be tempting to think it – some wilfully extravagant public artwork, or a fashionable “iconic” building with a vague, ironic purpose and a funny roof. It is a bus station, nothing more, nothing less, and its opening in Vauxhall Cross, south London, happened without fanfare. And yet, architecturally, it is a trumpet blast: an extraordinary structure that is striking, clear and unmissable.

…part of what makes Arup’s work so special is the fact that it is localised. This bus station – and the Underground and mainline stations it also serves – has long been trapped in a sulphorous tangle of roads, themselves overshadowed by such poisonous postmodern structures as the MI6 building and a development of showy flats with madcap roofs that resemble the rear ends of Chevrolet Impalas. To stand out in this jungle, the Arup building needed to have a strong, clear voice – and it does.

A building such as this surely deserves an international audience? It should appear in all London tourist guides. It should be on the route of every London coach tour. It should be the subject of tens of thousands of photographs. Well, no, not according to the Metropolitan Police. Five days after the Guardian published Jonathan’s review, it printed the following letter from a 69 year old retired TV cameraman who was visiting London with his 15 year old son.

During a recent visit to London I had a nasty incident, which killed interest in any further trips to this city. As I was taking pictures of double-decker buses with my son, we were approached by two policemen. First, we were told that it is forbidden to take pictures of anything in conjunction with transport. Then our names, passport numbers and London hotel address were noted. After that we were forced to delete all pictures that included any transport – even pictures of the new underground station in Vauxhall, which is a modern sculpture! These deletions were not only enforced destruction of private property, but an infringement of our privacy.

I understand the need for some sensitivity in an era of terrorism, but isn’t it naive to think terrorism can be prevented by terrorising tourists?

Klaus Matzka
Vienna, Austria

Mr Matzka’s letter needs no further comment from us. That serious damage that is being done to the UK’s tourist industry can be seen from how fast his story is being picked up overseas. This article appeared on a Polish website on Friday. As well as Mr Matzaks’s story it describes how Austin Mitchell, MP was challended after taking a photograph of a narrow boat in a lock!


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8 Responses to “Police terrorise Vauxhall tourists”

  1. White Horse Pilgrim Says:

    So, fresh fom beating to death a newspaper vendor peacefully walking home, the emboldened Met are busy harrassing tourists. The victim was lucky not to have been assaulted by these thugs.

    Did you notice how the Met rigged the coroner’s verdict to claim that the deceased “had suffered a heart attack” only for it to emerge that he had died from internal bleeding?

    I visted Poland and the DDR back in the Communist era, when the Police, for all their power, treated people a whole lot more decently than is the case all too often in Britain nowadays.

    • dyspozytor Says:

      As a visitor to Poland since the 60s, I have always been treated very courteously by the Polish police. I understand that the locals sometimes received somewhat rougher treatment.

  2. John Ball Says:

    I think the Met is getting dangerously out of control. Far from serving and being part of the community, the police are now an arm of an authoritarian state. They make up their own rules about who can do what, and are turning this country into a police state. Dare to protest on the street and at best you get ‘kettled’ – corralled into a closed space for hours on end without access to food, drink or sanitation. At worst you can be seriously wounded or killed. Take photos and they assume the right to hassle you and destroy your photos.

    So much for the defeat of communism meaning the triumph of liberty.

  3. Michael Dembinski Says:

    British police – once the envy of the world – have turned into some sort of fascist paramilitary.

    This ridiculous harassment of tourists, trainspotters and photographers must cease.

  4. BeauMec39 Says:

    I lived in London, never had this sort of experience, but then 20 years can make a difference.

    If I get to London, I will remind myself to NEVER take photos when a cop is near.

    • dyspozytor Says:

      I lived in London and used to creep round the back into Willesden, Southall and Feltham sheds and take photographs. The worst that ever happened was that I was sometimes shouted at. But England was a different country then.

  5. John Ball Says:

    The Brits have lost their sense of proportion. I don’t want to say that mass murder isn’t serious, but there is no need to turn the country into a police state. ‘Only’ trainspotters today; could be opposition politicians tomorrow.

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