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Councillors to consider proposals to tackle anti-social behaviour in Stafford

Thursday, November 7th, 2019 7:44am

By Simon Humphreys & Kerry Ashdown

Bike riding and 'chuggers' could be banned from parts of Stafford town centre, under proposals being considered by borough councillors later.

They are proposals being considered by Borough Councillors later as part of a renewal of a public space protection order.

Calls to curtail the activities of “chuggers” – paid fundraisers who encourage passers-by to sign up to regular direct debit donations for charities – were first made several years ago by fed-up town centre shoppers and businesses.

And cyclists riding their bikes through pedestrianised areas of the town have also been a long-running concern. Earlier this year an 18-year-old man was ordered to pay £50 compensation and write a letter of apology after crashing into a pedestrian.

But from next year there could be more restrictions on these activities as part of the renewal of the current Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) covering Stafford and Stone town centres.

The existing town centre PSPOs, which aim to prevent nuisance behaviour in designated areas, already restrict alcohol consumption in the street. They are due to expire in 2020.

Stafford Borough Council is now considering what measures to include in the new PSPOs. On Thursday the council’s cabinet will be asked to approve a consultation on the proposals so residents, businesses and town visitors can have their say.

Tents could be banned in the areas covered by the PSPOs, as well as cycling, roller skating, skateboarding and scooters.

Councillor Jeremy Pert, cabinet member for communities, said: “We want to ensure our town centres are welcoming places. Places where people can spend leisure time, shop, relax, or even set up business and we don’t want that ruined by anti social behaviour, alcohol related issues, or other forms of nuisance.

“One of the nuisances complained of by our residents and visitors is that these direct debit collectors are harassing them and retailers have mentioned that customers say they have been put off coming in to town.

“We have already liaised with the police and other partners about how we address these types of behaviour and now we hope our residents will give us their feedback.”

If the new measures are improved chuggers – and utility company sales people – would have to apply to the council for permission to come in to town and be confined to a designated area only.

Anyone caught breaching the restrictions could receive a warning – or even face a fine of £75, which is reduced to £50 if paid within 10 days,

A report to Thursday’s cabinet meeting said: “After an increase in anti social behaviour within Stafford town centre in early 2019, the increased restrictions are geographical areas covered, (which) will provide enforcement officers with additional tools in order to deal with the anti social behaviours in question.

“The PSPO proposal contains provision for alcohol restriction, restrictions on motor vehicles, bikes, scooters, skateboards/ roller skates, groups of five or more loitering causing intimidation, tents and organisations canvassing for bank details or sale of services by direct debit or face to face fund raisers. There are also requirements for the control of dogs in other locations across the borough.

“Currently there are two PSPOs containing restrictions around alcohol in Stafford Borough which cover both Stafford and Stone Town Centres. It is proposed that the area for the PSPO covering Stafford Town Centre be extended as anti social behaviour can also become a problem on the outskirts of town as well as at Stafford Train Station.

“Stafford Borough Council Partnership Officers worked closely with Staffordshire Police in issuing Community Protection Warning letters and Notices during 2018 and 2019. Fixed Penalty Notices have also been issued following a breach of the town centre PSPO. Most of these were issued following incidents of anti social behaviour related to street drinking.”

In the first seven months of 2019 there were 200 incidents of violence or public order offences recorded in Stafford and Stone town centres, the cabinet report said. During the same period there were 524 recorded incidents of antisocial behaviour and 208 cases documented of street drinking, drunkenness or alcohol prohibition breaches across the two town centres.

During 2018 there were 399 incidents of violence and public order, 579 incidents of antisocial behaviour and 372 incidents of street drinking, drunkenness and alcohol prohibition breaches recorded in the two town centres.

Away from the town centres new restrictions could also be introduced to ban dogs from play areas at Stafford’s Charnley Road and in the village of Stowe by Chartley.

Measures are already in place to crack down on fouling and dogs off leads in certain areas of the borough, as well as a limit on the number of animals that can be walked by one person.

 

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