Launching the initiative, the home secretary Jack Straw stressed the importance of open debate. He said: 'In the UK we sometimes forget how lucky we are to have free speech and what an important part it plays in our modern day life.
'The chance to air opinions, listen to the views of others, informs the way we live, and the way in which our communities develop and ultimately progress.
'The setting up of speakers' corners as proposed by the ATCM is an excellent way of making sure free debate and discussion can continue and be promoted in the safest way possible.
'These can be even more rigorous than any John Humphrys or Jeremy Paxman interview.
'Activities and ideas such as these should also play a major part in revitalising our public spaces, involving the whole community in the regeneration of our town centres.'
In the first instance the ATCM will consult as widely as possible, and establish pilot sites to trial the speakers' corners. This will lead to the publication next year of a good practice guide for town centre managers and local authorities.
Alan Tallentire, chairman of the ATCM said: 'As part of the consultation process we are inviting town centre managers to respond to the Home Secretary's challenge and offer to set up pilot sites across the country. We welcome this opportunity to bring additional life and vitality into our public spaces.'
1. As part of the consultation process, ATCM welcomes comments on the
initiative. These should be sent to the following address: The
Association of Town Centre Management, 1 Queen Anne's Gate, London
SW1H 9BT' or they can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. The Association of Town Centre Management was formed in 1991 to
lead the town centre management movement by promoting town centre
management as a formal discipline. Created by public sector
professionals and private sector business people dedicated to
promoting and assisting the successful implementation of town centre
management, it now counts amongst its membership, over 250 town