Voters without maps

Anyone who doubts the restrictive effect of Crown Copyright need look no further than this example sent in by a reader of the blog who requested a map of the electoral boundaries of his voting district. Cambridge City Council wrote back to say they could not supply an electronic version of the map that could easily be reproduced for public benefit. In addition, the requester was told that the hard copy of the map supplied was for his sole use and that he could not share it with the public!

What sort of nonsense is it when the public are not even allowed access to maps of their own electoral boundaries?! Our taxes paid for the creation of the Ordnance Survey and through our council tax we pay again so that councils can access this public data. As if that’s not silly enough, we are then told we have to pay for a license if we want to publish maps of our voting wards.

Read the full response from Cambridge City Council.

The silliness is best summed up in this paragraph:

we are allowed to provide you with a single copy of a map containing the information you request. This has to be supplied to you in either a hard copy paper form or in the form of an electronic image in raster format only. In addition we are required to draw your attention to the fact that the Copyright Design and Patents Act 1988 will continue to apply to the Ordnance Survey map which will be subject to Crown Copyright protection. The Ordnance Survey map is supplied for the sole purpose of assisting you to understand the information overlaid on it. Should you wish to use the information in any other way, for example by making multiple copies or issuing copies to the public, then please contact Ordnance Survey and they will advise you as to whether or not you will require a licence.

7 Responses to “Voters without maps”

  1. David Mery says:

    Lord Carlile wrote in Report on the operation in 2005 of the Terrorism Act 2000:

    “I repeat yet again my request made elsewhere that an up to date edition of the TA2000 as currently in force should appear on the Home Office website. Given the prevalence of new criminal justice legislation as a policy preference in most Parliamentary sessions, even those of us involved on a frequent basis in the effects of TA2000find it difficult to keep up with changes. This plea is especially important for the police. At least the text of the Act as passed, the Queen’s Printers version, has been on the Home Office website for some time now, though the existence of numerous amendments means it must be treated with caution. I welcome the decision to place on the website the recent Terrorism Bill during its Parliamentary stages to becoming what is now the Terrorism Act 2006. This enabled interested persons to follow important and controversial proposed legislation. I have been assured by the Home Office that the updated TA2000 will be on the Home Office website soon.

    To which John Reid writes a reply including this mind-boggling explanation:

    “We had intended to include a page on the Home Office website with an updated version of the Terrorism Act 2000. However, as the updated versions of legislation are produced by a commercial company, there are legal obstacles to make these freely available on the Home Office website.”
    (check the original for more; as it is a scan any extract needs to be retyped – intentional?)

    br -d

  2. Stephen says:

    Using Crown Copyright “the Blair government has managed to administratively negate its own Freedom of Information Act”, according to retired British Ambassador to the Central Asian Republic of Uzbekistan, Craig Murray. His new book, “Murder in Samarkand” details “vicious human rights abuses by the US-funded regime of Islam Karimov”.

    The Foreign and Commonweath Office is threatening to take legal action if some of the supporting documents are included in the book, even though they were made available under the Freedom of Information Act. Craig Murray writes on his website, “They argue that – and this astonished me – even if a document is released under the DPA or FoIA, it is still copyright of the Crown and so cannot be published.” (Murray 2004)

    Murray, C. 2004, ‘Murder In Samarkand – Documents’, Available at:

  3. Hywel Morgan says:

    The Ordnance Survey operate a website of electoral maps which can be used by political parties etc for campaigns etc and on websites

    It can be found at

  4. Vaci says:

    The electoral maps provided by the OS can only be used on acceptance of their highly restrictive terms and conditions. We should not need the “kind permission” of the Ordnance Survey to use information that our taxes have already paid for, especially when it is fundamental to the democratic process.

  5. Stephen says:

    The Foreign Secretary is now threatening to take legal action against Craig Murray for breach of crown copyright solely for _web publishing_ documents released under the FOI.

  6. Paul Harvey says:

    It is technically possible to overlay the boundaries on a Google Map and then print it off for one’s own private use. Just don’t ask me how.

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