Longton residents support PSPO extension for town centre

Traders and shoppers have supported plans to renew rules aimed at keeping drunks and beggars off Longton's streets.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has asked for people’s thoughts on its proposals to extend a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) around Longton Exchange.

The order, which has been in place for three years, bars various forms of anti-social behaviour in the town, including bad language.

It came into effect in October 2016 and will soon expire.

Anyone who breaks the rules can be fined up to £500 for alcohol related issues and up to £1,000 for engaging in behaviour likely to be intimidating or cause distress, including aggressive begging.

Shoppers and traders believes the PSPO should continue.

Steve Smith, owner of Longton Re-Sales, does not believe the order has worked. but he supports its extension.

“They still sleep in the doorways across there,” said Steve. “They are always outside Wilkos begging and always in The Strand. When I go across to get my dinner there are loads of them about.

"There’s community police but nothing else.

“And it’s just a few words, do they mean it? Are there enough police around to do anything about it? Why can’t the Government do anything about it?

“I get some of them coming in here sometimes. They go in the skip and try and sell it in here. One time I threw something in the skip and they brought it back in here to sell it to me. I said: ‘What are you doing?’”

Steve added that the alleyway behind his store is also frequented by rough sleepers.

Weston Coyney resident Leo McGarrigle believes the order is a good thing.

The 62-year-old said: “They should be extending it. With the exception of soldiers and that people can’t be sitting around begging.”

Valerie Edwards thinks the order has worked over the past three years.

The 77-year-old, from Dresden, said: “It’s not as bad as Hanley. You won’t see me in Hanley, it’s very intimidating. I think the PSPO is a good idea.

"If it’s stopping people drinking and drugs and whatever they do. I always feel safe in Longton. It’s just a shame there’s so many empty shops.”

Valerie’s friend Maureen Colley agreed.

“It’s a good thing,” said the 74-year-old. “Somebody was stabbed in King Street last week. It’s everywhere you go.”

Ian Hardy, manager of Brassington Bros shoe shop in Market Street says the beggars do not bother him. He said: “I just go about my own business and do what I’ve got to do.

"If I see anybody begging I give them a bit of money, I’d like to think if it was me people would do the same.

“It’s just a bit of a rundown town. It wants some money spending on it.”

The consultation for the PSPO runs until Sunday August 11, 2019.

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