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Leaflet distribution

If you distribute any free printed material, you must obtain the consent of the council in order to distribute on land which is designated by them as requiring consent.

Consent summary

By virtue of powers granted by Environment Protection Act 1990, the London Borough of Hillingdon has designated certain highways and council-owned land where the distribution of free, printed matter is permitted only with the prior consent of the council. Consent may be limited as to the material to be distributed, the times or dates it may be distributed, or the area of designated land in which it may be distributed.

The purpose of this legislation is to help control the litter problem created by the distribution of free printed matter which is often quickly discarded by persons to whom it is given. This not only harms the environment but places added pressure on council street cleansing services.


The legislation does not apply to the distribution of free literature:

  • on behalf of a charity, within the meaning of the Charities Act 2006, where the printed matter relates to, or is for the benefit of the charity
  • where the distribution is for political purposes
  • for the purposes of a religion or belief
  • by a person who distributes the literature by delivering it into a building or letterbox or distributing inside a bus or taxi

The organisation should apply for consent but there will be no charge for this. We would encourage organisations seeking to distribute matter under these exemptions to contact us in advance. In this way, we can confirm your exemption status and issue you a permit free of any charge. We do ask that printed matter is still distributed responsibly and arrange to collect any discarded material.    

Designated streets and places

If free literature is to be distributed in a street or place outside the designated areas, then no consent is required.

Areas affected by the new rules are, currently:

  • Brunel University and its surroundings
  • Hayes town centre
  • Uxbridge town centre

Select on the maps below for large images of the designated areas.

Brunel University

Hayes town centre

Uxbridge town centre




Regulation summary


Authorised officer means any officer employed by Hillingdon Council to carry out statutory functions under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.

Designated Land means relevant land of the authority, all or part of any relevant highway for which the authority is responsible or both.

Distribution means to give it out, or offer or make it available to, members of the public and includes placing it on or affixing it to vehicles, but does not include putting it inside a building or letterbox.

Free printed matter means if distributed without charge to the persons to whom it is distributed.

Highway means a route or area which all persons can use to pass and repass along as often and whenever they wish without let or hindrance and without charge; this includes carriageway, footway and any part of that area where the public have access and which may be in public or private ownership.

Relevant Land includes all public places such as parks, cemeteries, car parks which are in the open air and owned and managed by the council. A definitive interpretation can be obtained from the Licensing Service if you are in doubt.

Police Constable includes a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO).

How to apply

Consent to distribute printed matter

An acknowledgement of your completed application will be sent to you via e-mail.  Please note that applications may be delayed beyond fourteen days should information not be supplied as required on the application form or where the correct fee is not submitted .

Fees and charges

Please not that we cannot process your completed form until we are in receipt of the current licence fee.

Target completion period

We will process your application as quickly as possible and, in any event, within the following timescales:


Processing Times

Tacit Consent

Application for consent to distribute leaflets 

14 calendar days


Application to change a consent to distribute leaflets

5 working days


Conditions applicable to all consents

  • Distributors wishing to hand out free literature within the restricted areas shall be restricted to two distributors per event to minimise the impact on the local environment and the defacement of the designated areas.
  • Distributing companies shall only delegate two distributors to distribute their literature in a designated area, on the approved date and between the approved times.
  • Distributions shall only take place between the hours of 7am and 3pm and shall take place for no more than three hours during this period, either continuously or intermittently.
  • All staff engaged in the distribution of free literature shall be in possession of a current consent that has been issued by the council whilst undertaking or supporting distribution activities.
  • All staff engaged in the distribution of free literature shall produce, on demand of an authorised officer, their consent to distribute within the area they are operating.
  • No free literature shall be left at any place on the highway to facilitate the general public to take the literature at their discretion unless by prior agreement by the council.
  • All literature shall bear the name and address of the consent holder who is responsible for the distributing the literature unless an agreement has been reached prior to distribution with the council as part of the application process;
  • All staff distributing free literature should clear the area (within 25 meters of the allotted point) at the end of the distribution period of all dropped literature and remove the literature for correct disposal. Every effort should be made to recycle all dropped literature.
  • All staff distributing free literature should remove, at any time, any literature from the public highway on demand of an authorised officer where it is safe to do so.
  • It is expected that all literature promoting alcohol shall display a responsible drinking strap line.
  • It is expected that all literature promoting gambling does not contravene the council's gambling policy.
  • Any distributions carried out whilst an application is being processed shall be treated as having no consent to distribute within the area.
  • We will normally grant consent for a day and that will only be for three hours continuously or intermittently.

What happens if your application is not processed by the local authority within the timescales stated?

Tacit consent​ applies, this means that you will be able to act as though your application is granted if you have not heard from the Local Authority by the end of the target completion period. If we have not contacted you, please get in touch with us.

Please note, that tacit consent will only apply for applications that you submit electronically or when your business can show proof of delivery from a post office or recognised courier.

Offences and penalties

It is a criminal offence to hand out free literature in certain areas of the London Borough of Hillingdon. If printed materials are being distributed without consent after 14 February 2011, offenders are liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £2,500. The distributors and/or promoter may be subject to a fixed penalty fine of £80 as an alternative to prosecution.

An authorised officer may also seize any free printed matter from a person found distributing it in a designated place without the consent of the council.

Refusal to grant consent

The council may refuse to grant consent, if:

  • the applicant is unsuitable by reason of misconduct
  • the applicant has within the previous five years been convicted of any offence under London Local Authorities Act 1994 section 4 (seizure of literature where no consent has been granted)
  • a consent already given to distribute literature would result in more than one distributor in each designated area on each day
  • there is a risk of danger or unreasonable inconvenience to users of highways
  • it is considered that the proposed distribution of free literature is likely to lead to the defacement of the designated area

No consent will be given for the distribution of the following types of literature:

  • racist, sexist or offensive material or literature encouraging criminal behaviour;
  • literature that promotes the irresponsible use of alcohol (eg happy hour advertisements or money-off offers)

Revocation of consent

Consent may be revoked if:

Right of appeal

Any person aggrieved by the following decisions of the council, may appeal against that decision to Uxbridge Magistrates' Court:

  • refusal to grant consent
  • imposition of any limitation or condition subject to which consent is given
  • revocation of a consent (or its revocation to any extent)

The court may:

  • uphold any refusal to grant consent or require the authority to grant consent (without limitation or condition or subject to any limitation or condition)
  • require the authority to revoke or vary any condition
  • uphold or quash revocation of consent (or uphold or quash revocation to any extent)

Consumer complaint

We would always advise that in the event of a complaint, you make the first contact with the trader, preferably in the form a letter (with proof of delivery). If that has not worked and you are located in the UK, Citizens Advice consumer service will give you advice. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre.

Other redress

Should you need to complain about, for example, noise, pollution, etc or should one consent holder have cause to complain about another, please contact the council's contact centre in the first instance.

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 29 Mar 2017 at 15:15