Residents have their say on new begging order

The Public Space Protection Order aims to cut down on begging and anti-social behaviour in Gosport town centre
The Public Space Protection Order aims to cut down on begging and anti-social behaviour in Gosport town centre
Picture: Paul Riddell

Local fire crews join more than 100 firefighters in tackling large thatch blaze at hotel

Have your say

IT IS something that the town desperately needed – but some feel that there could have been an alternative.

That is the consensus among residents in Gosport, after the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) was introduced on November 17.

The PSPO aims to clamp down on aggressive begging and anti-social behaviour in the town, with police community support officers getting additional powers to take action.

Recent figures from homeless charity Shelter showed the number of homeless people in Gosport has risen to 500 people.

Statistics also show Gosport has the highest rate of drug-related deaths in the south of England.

The order aims to target those who take to the streets to beg – but some residents are unconvinced by the plans.

Mark Blair, 78, said: ‘You look at these people who haven’t got a bed, and you find yourself wondering why the government can’t do more to help.

‘In the past there would be a policeman on the beat and nobody would dare to do anything. As long as the town is police-free, there will be anti-social behaviour going on.’

Mark’s partner Margaret Blair, 74, said: ‘I feel sorry for them above anything else.

‘But it is sad, I just don’t know if introducing a PSPO is the right thing to do.’

Robin White, 21, said: ‘Begging has not particularly been a problem or regularly seen in Gosport.

‘Having lived in Southampton for three years I would argue that aggressive begging and anti-social behaviour is much more of an issue there than it is here in Gosport.’

But some think the introduction of the PSPO is the right decision, with the council having no other choice.

Cathy Yeomans, 66, said: ‘There are a few beggars out here as we speak. I do think it needed to be done, because there are a lot of beggars around here.

‘Some of them don’t want to be helped – so I suppose this is really the only option to get them off our streets.’

Councillor Stephen Philpott said: ‘I know a lot of residents have been concerned about the behaviour of a tiny minority of people in the town centre.

‘Hopefully, now that we have got this order in place we will have the necessary backup and security to ensure that people feel comfortable going about their business in the town centre. Some of the residents are concerned about the state of some of the public buildings, such as the toilets by the ferry terminal.’