BEGGING will be banned in Poole from tomorrow, despite opposition from groups who have called the move “cruel and uncaring”.
The council has introduced a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) in the town centre, Poole Quay, as well as Poole Park, Sterte and Tatnam.
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Once in effect, certain activities will be banned in this part of the borough, including: drinking alcohol and being verbally abusive; begging for food, money and/or drink; sleeping in car parks and doorways (between 8am and midnight), and the possession, supply or use of drugs.Anyone caught breaking the order could face a fine of up to £1,000.
When a consultation on the PSPO was carried out last year, local church groups and members of Poole Labour Party slammed the proposals.
However, Borough of Poole (BoP) officials have refused to publish the results of the consultation before enacting the order.And the controversial policy has been implemented without being discussed at committee but following a decision by a delegated officer.
The Rt Revd Karen Gorham, Bishop of Sherborne, feared banning begging and rough sleeping would push homeless people further out the reach of help from charities.
And Poole reverend Lucy Holt said the order may result in the “criminalising” of those who need “serious and wide-ranging help”.
Katie Taylor, chair of Poole Labour Party, has also condemned the ban and is calling for the council to lift the restriction on sleeping in doorways and car parks.
She said: “These people need help, not punishment. The mere suggestion of fining the homeless still turns these vulnerable people into criminals in the eyes of the public, fostering suspicion rather than sympathy and shielding the real issues of austerity.”
She added: “In light of the tragic death of the homeless man ‘Kev’ in Bournemouth recently, Poole council should think very carefully about these measures.“I urge them to remove the clauses which will allow for a ban and fines for sleeping in doorways and car parks. When exposed to the bad weather and biting cold these places might be the only shelter the homeless can reply on.”
PSPOs for Ashley Road and Alexandra Park were also renewed and extended on December 23 2017.
Cllr Karen Rampton, portfolio holder for housing and communities, said: “We want Poole to be a safe and welcoming place for everyone who lives, works or visits our fantastic town. We’re responding to those residents and businesses who tell us that anti-social behaviour is having a detrimental effect on their daily life and livelihood.
“We take those concerns very seriously and hope that the responsible and proportionate use of the powers given to the police and council officers by the PSPO will give people more reassurance that we can tackle anti-social behaviour on their behalf.”
She added: “We have actively consulted local charities and organisations in preparing PSPOs. The new orders do not mean a complete prohibition on people who are sleeping rough and we will continue to proactively work with individuals to encourage them to use the full range of support available from the council and local charities.”
Safer communities manager Ian Cooke, who signed the order, said: “Public Space Protection Orders allow us to effectively manage anti-social behaviour in the areas covered by the order. In the past few years incidents of anti-social behaviour has increased which in turn requires an increasing amount of time and resources by the council, police and other partners.
”Since 2010, homelessness has risen by 115 per cent in the South West. Figures released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government recently revealed there were 13 rough sleepers in Poole last year – an increase from 11 in 2016.