Thomas Bridge 30 March 2015

Councils hit back after new public space laws branded ‘bizarre’

Council leaders have refuted claims that public spaces are being hit by a ‘patchwork’ of ‘bizarre’ new criminal offences introduced by town halls.

Local authorities have been able to launch public space protection orders (PSPOs) and outlaw certain activities since the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act became law last year.

Yet anti-regulation group the Manifesto Club said this had allowed town halls to ‘ban pretty much anything’ and create a ‘patchwork of criminal law’.

Responding to the claims, the Local Government Association (LGA) this afternoon said PSPOs were ‘far from bizarre’ and dealt with ‘serious issues’ relevant to each region.

The eight PSPOs currently in force across England and Wales include a ban on under-21s entering a tower block in Oxford unless they are a visitor or resident. Lincoln Council has also banned consumption of alcohol and legal highs in public spaces in its city centre.

Manifesto Club said there were another four PSPOs out to public consultation and 19 under consideration.

These include potential bans on pigeon feeding, selling lucky charms, playing amplified music and begging.

Anyone caught flouting these rules could be hit with a £100 fixed penalty fine.

Josie Appleton, director of the Manifesto Club, said: ‘These powers are so broad that they allow councils to ban pretty much anything.

‘The result is a patchwork of criminal law where something is illegal in one town but not in the next, or in one street but not the next. These orders will turn town and city centres into no-go zones for homeless people, buskers, old ladies feeding pigeons, or anyone else the council views as “messy”.’

However an LGA spokesman said: ‘PSPOs can be used to address anti-social activities in public spaces which are having a detrimental effect on the quality of life of local people. Anti-social behaviour offences, such as aggressive begging, public drinking or the sale of legal highs, are far from “bizarre”. For victims and communities affected, they are serious issues and councils are keen to protect them from offenders who can make the lives of those they target a misery.

‘Crime and anti-social behaviour by its very nature varies from place to place and that is why different councils are responding in a variety of ways.’

Oxford City Council said its action formed part of a ‘robust’ response to tackle ‘unacceptable behaviour’.

At the launch of the local PSPO, Lincoln City Council leader, Ric Metcalfe, said: ‘We want our city centre to be a safe and welcoming place for residents and visitors alike.’

Skate parks are not the only fruit image

Skate parks are not the only fruit

On Go Skateboarding Day, Susannah Walker asks councils and their leisure and park departments to think differently about what facilities they provide for teenagers.
SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Head of Property, Investment and Regeneration

Lancaster City Council
£53,633-£67,296
We are looking for a creative, inspirational and commercially minded leader who is able to translate vision and strategy into reality. Lancaster, Lancashire
Recuriter: Lancaster City Council

Accountant - Hybrid Working

North Yorkshire County Council
£36,370 to £40,578
Are you driven by more than just the bottom line? Want to be more than just an Accountant? Hybrid working with the expectation to visit County Hall, Northallerton and client premises, as required.
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Apprentice Social Worker

North Yorkshire County Council
£25,418 - £28,226 per annum pro rata.
A great opportunity to join our excellent organisation as an Apprentice Social Worker! Scarborough Area
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Principal Building Control Surveyors

City of York Council
£45,207 per annum.
City of York Council are looking for two talented individuals to take the lead in moving the Building Control Team forward. Hybrid
Recuriter: City of York Council

Building Control & Property Information Manager

City of York Council
Grade 11, Level 1-4 (£43,910 - £50,504 per annum)
We have an opening for a Building Control and Property Information Manager within our Building Control team based in the city of York. York, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of York Council

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.