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

E&E

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:
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Revised plans on how to tackle antisocial behaviour in Exeter – and how to have your say

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Media Release | 28 November 2016

Revised plans on how to tackle antisocial behaviour in Exeter – and how to have your say

Following feedback on its consultation earlier this year, Exeter City Council has revised plans on how to tackle antisocial behaviour in parts of the City.
Earlier this year the Council consulted over four months into plans for a Public Spaces Protection Order – a new power available to councils to help prevent and reduce persistent antisocial behaviour from negatively affecting local communities.
Following responses from the public:
– Proposed controls on street encampments have been removed from plans to go before the Council in February next year.
– Controls on begging have been limited to tackle problematical aggressive begging only, where people feel intimidated.
– In addition on-the-spot fixed penalties notices for anti-social behaviour will not be the preferred option, instead notices would be issued retrospectively and contain an option for positive action such as Acceptable Behaviour Contracts, which have nationally seen success at changing behaviour for the better.
The revised proposals will now be put to residents and businesses in a series of local public meetings in areas the PSPO would directly cover.
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. We have listened to the public and will continue to do so – 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. I believe these revised plans get that balance right.”
The controls include looking to tackle antisocial behaviour in public spaces where people are openly injecting/taking drugs, problematical street drinking, urinating in the street, and carrying out aggressive begging or other anti-social behaviour.
A series of open public meetings have been scheduled for the following dates & venues:
  • Monday 5th December at 7pm, Riverside Church & Conference Centre, 13-14 Oakhampton Street
  • Tuesday 6th December at 6PM, Guildhall (businesses only) •
  • Wednesday 7th December at 7pm, Exeter Community Centre, 17 St. David’s Hill
  • Thursday 8th December at 7pm, St. Sidwell’s Primary School, York Road

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