PLANS to implement an ‘anti-begging’ order in a town centre have been called ‘taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut.’
Fareham Borough Council’s executive is set to discuss the option of a public space protection order (PSPO) for the town centre at a meeting on Monday.
This is almost like taking a sledgehammer to crack a little nutCouncillor Shaun Cunningham
The order gives police additional powers to punish anti-social behaviour, begging, street drinking, taking of drugs and rough sleeping in public areas.
An officer can issue a person breaking the order with a fine of up to £100 and if a person continues to ignore the order, they may receive a fine of £1,000.
Council leader Sean Woodward says the order is to make the centre less ‘intimidating’ for families.
He said: ‘Our residents come to the town centre to enjoy their time here and we have been looking at all the possible powers we could to make the centre more friendly.
‘This is an order that will allow people in the centre to feel more comfortable while they do their shopping.’
The order would cover the reach of the shopping centre up to Miller Drive to the north down to Redlands Lane and going from the A27 Station Roundabout across to Wallington Way.
Discussions on a potential PSPO come after reports to the council about begging, street drinking and rough sleeping having a ‘detrimental effect’ on areas around Westbury Museum and Holy Trinity Church in West Street.
PSPOs have already been introduced in cities such as Southampton and Oxford.
Liberal Democrat councillor Shaun Cunningham said: ‘An order like this should be used as a last resort.’
‘I know that there are problems in these areas and that is something that many organisations are working on, but introducing something like this is like taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut.’
‘I think we need to be careful here, how do they know it will be enforced and there’s a chance it could make Fareham an unfriendly place.’
A report to the council’s executive, which meets on Monday, recommends launching a public consultation into the plans.
If approved, a consultation will take place later this year.