E&E | Taking tents from Exeter homeless and on-the-spot fines dropped from controversial PSPO plans


30 November 2016

Taking tents from Exeter homeless and on-the-spot fines dropped from controversial PSPO plans

by Alex Richards

Controversial plans for a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) covering Exeter city centre, revised after public outcry, are up for consultation.

The powers would help authorities in the city clamp down on anti social behaviour.

However, strong concern was voiced nationally that the proposed powers granted by the PSPO went too far, criminalising the homeless rather than helping them.

Reflecting public opinion, the council has returned with proposals which have either dropped or revised certain aspects of their proposals.

In particular, controls on street encampments have been completely removed from the plans.

Controls on begging have been limited to solely restrict aggressive begging, where people feel intimidated.

In addition, on-the-spot fixed fines for anti social behaviour have been replaced with notices issued after the offence.

An option would be available for “positive action”, including Acceptable Behaviour Contracts.

The revised proposals will be put to residents and businesses in a series of local public meetings in areas of the city the PSPO would directly cover.

The authority revealed it had received more than 1,200 responses following a four month consultation exercise into whether a PSPO should be introduced.

Cllr Rob Hannaford, Exeter City Council’s Lead Councillor for Place said: “Consultation is never a box ticking exercise – especially with something as important as a Public Space Protection Order.

A demo against the PSPO earlier this year

“However many residents and businesses in Exeter are suffering from the effects of chronic antisocial behaviour and we must be in a position to help them if there is an option to do so.

Adding: “I believe these revised plans get that balance right.”

In February this year, comedian Mark Thomas held a demonstration outside Exeter Civic Centre over the PSPO plans.

He labeled it a “bullies charter” and “mean-spirited rubbish.”

“These orders are all about keeping city centres nice and clean for a good shopping experience,” added Mr Thomas,

“But life has little blemishes and the council’s attitude is the mentality of a shopping mall security guard. It’s bullying, nasty and vicious.”

The proposals will go before the council in February next year.

Here’s when and where the public meetings have been scheduled:

Monday December 5 at 7pm, Riverside Church & Conference Centre, 13-14 Okehampton Street

Tuesday December 6 at 6pm, Guildhall (businesses only)

Wednesday December 7 at 7pm, Exeter Community Centre, 17 St. David’s Hill

Thursday December 8 at 7pm, St. Sidwell’s Primary School, York Road

Futher reading:
Read the article on the E&E website

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