Agenda item

Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) Renewal - Thetford

Minutes:

Steve James, the Communities and Environmental Services Manager explained that the current Public Spaces Protection Order No.1 of 2017 for Thetford would expire early December 2020.  The report provided the background to the PSPO and an evaluation of the effectiveness from key stakeholders since its inception three years ago.  It was recommended that the PSPO continue for a further three years without variation.

 

Councillor James spoke in favour of extending the PSPO across the town and explained how it was an important toolkit for enforcement for the Police.

 

Councillor Dowling also supported the recommendation within the report t as it was important for the Town and felt that the measures should be continued.

 

Options

1)    Do nothing, not renew the Order. This option is not preferred for two reasons. Firstly, the consultation on the potential renewal of the Order shows public support for it continuing and the perception that street drinking continues to be a problem in Thetford Town Centre. Secondly the evaluation of the Order shows that the enforcement options provided by the Order are still being utilised to address anti-social behaviour in the town centre. As such, allowing the Order to cease would be going against public opinion and is likely to result in increased problems of anti-social behaviour in the Town Centre.

 

2)    Approve the renewal of the Public Spaces Protection Order in Thetford Town Centre without variation (preferred option).

 

3)    Extend the Order geographically to include new issues or behaviours. This option is not legally possible currently. The Council would be required to consult on any increase in the scope of the Order. We have not carried out this consultation as part of the renewal process.

 

Reasons for Recommendation

The Council is recommended to extend the PSPO. The recent Poll shows that the public perception of these behaviours being present in Thetford is decreasing. 

Street drinking

In 2017 95% of respondents had seen people persistently consuming alcohol in a public space compared to 87% of respondents in the 2020 poll. 18% of respondents in the 2020 poll say that that they believe the problem has improved, while 37% say that the problem has gotten worse.

Public urination and defecation

67% of the 2017 respondents said they had seen people persistently urinating or defecating in a public place.  This has reduced to 49% of the 2020 respondents.  6% of the 2020 respondents believed that this problem has improved, and 25% believe the problem has gotten worse

Anti-social use of Scooters, skateboards, bikes and other wheeled vehicles

Respondents saying that they have witnessed people persistently using wheeled vehicles in a pedestrianised area has increased by 5% since 2017,  84% in 2017 and 89% in 2020.  Only 1% of the 2020 respondents believe that this issue has improved since 2017 and 51% believe the issue has got worse.

There is also overwhelming support from stakeholders for continuing with the protection against anti-social behaviour provided by the Order. However, the data also shows a continuing need for enforcement actions both formal and informal under the PSPO and continuing reports of alcohol related anti-social behaviour. Based on the evaluation from stakeholders there is a risk that these behaviours escalate should the PSPO cease.

 

In reaching a decision on whether to renew the Order it will be important to consider the necessity of continuing with the Order and the proportionality of the restrictions it contains. Some of the responses from stakeholders have requested that the scope of the Order is widened to include spitting in the Town Centre. This cannot happen as part of the current renewal process since we are required to formally consult on any proposal to change the Order. We can later collate the evidence relating to possible inclusion of spitting in the street and can decide on review of that evidence whether a public consultation should be commenced on extending the Order.

 

RESOLVED that the renewal of the Public Spaces Protection Order in Thetford Town Centre without variation (Option 2) be approved.

 

Supporting documents: