Cabinet approves PSPO to tackle anti-social behaviour in Chester city centre

21 March 2016

Extra powers to tackle certain types of anti-social behaviour in public places in Chester city centre have been approved by Councillors.

Members at last Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting agreed a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) to prevent the use of legal highs and deter public urination and defecation, and to introduce a controlled alcohol zone.

The meeting heard that these measures had overwhelming public support in a recent consultation that attracted one of the largest responses ever recorded by Cheshire West and Chester Council.

Councillor Nicole Meardon, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: “The consultation gave us a wealth of information about how people feel about Chester such as how safe they feel during the night and day, and issues that concern them.

“We consulted on seven measures which were identified as types of behaviour that have a real impact on the quality of life of residents, businesses and visitors.

“We are confident that a PSPO is the best way to deal with the issues of legal highs, public urination and defecation, and drinking alcohol in a public place.

“Although four measures were taken out of the proposals we still recognise that they are important and are a looking at other ways that we can address them with our partners.” The PSPO, which will cover the city centre and parts of Newtown and Boughton, was developed by the Council and the Police to address specific anti-social behaviour issues that are detrimental to the city.

It will give authorised officers the power to issue ‘on-the-spot’ Fixed Penalty Notices carrying a fine of up to £100 to anyone in breach of the restrictions regarding legal highs and public urination and defecation.

The use of the order to introduce a controlled alcohol zone will make it an offence to fail to comply with a request by an authorised officer not to consume or surrender alcohol. Prosecution carries a fine of up to £1,000.

Chief Inspector Paul Williams of Cheshire Police said: “Working closely with the Council and providing valuable evidence for their review helped to shape the PSPO.

“We can only work within the law and any extra powers that help us to keep everyone safe can only be good for the community and is a key step to ensuring Chester remains a great city to live in, work in and visit.”

Cabinet Members also agreed to monitor the order - which will be in place for a minimum of three years - and review it after 12 months.

Councillor Meardon added: “It’s really important that we keep a close eye on the PSPO to assess the impact it is having on the quality of life of people in Chester.

“If other issues become apparent in the PSPO area, we can consider variations to the order.”

Measures to restrict the feeding of birds and deter rough sleeping, begging and inconsiderate busking were removed from the proposals after the consultation showed they had no overall public support.

Although the busking measure was not supported as part of the PSPO, more than three-quarters of respondents wanted the Council to work on a new code of practice for street entertainers.

The Cabinet meeting heard that Councillors and officers are now working with businesses and busking representatives to consider how a revised reporting and enforcement process might operate.

Following a recommendation from the Children and Families Policy and Performance Panel, further evidence about begging has also been gathered which could support other approaches to tackling this issue.

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