Antisocial behaviour orders considered for town halls despite public opposition

PUBLISHED: 07:00 02 April 2018

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Orders may be introduced at Portishead community halls which would mean people could be fined for antisocial acts committed at public venues.

Legislation is being considered which would make it easier to target and offenders who create problems in property owned by Portishead Town Council.

The idea has been opposed by some members and by several residents who feel it is a draconian and unnecessary measure. Critics say the orders are designed to ‘intimidate the public’ and stifle discussion.

Public space protection orders (PSPOs) were introduced by North Somerset Council last October.

They allow council staff and police officers to fine people for committing antisocial acts, such as dog fouling and littering. So far 30 people have been caught under the scheme.

North Somerset has introduced the orders for all its buildings – including libraries and children centres – and the town council has been asked to consider implementing them at the Folk, Redcliffe Bay and North Weston halls.

If introduced, they would mean users could be fined, or even in the worst cases prosecuted, for causing damage to property, behaving in an intimidating or disorderly manner, using threatening words or more minor offences such as distributing flyers without permission.

Cllr Lesley Cottrell backed the idea saying there had been incidents in the past when the Folk Hall had been damaged.

She was supported by her vice chairman Peter Mitchell who described PSPOs as an additional ‘insurance’ option and a scheme which made ‘perfect sense’.

He said the orders would not ‘stop public debate’, as some residents have feared.

Not everyone is keen on the introduction of PSPOs, with several members of the public critical of the way Portishead would be portrayed if it was felt orders were necessary.

Their views were echoed by councillors John Clark and Sue Mason, with the former saying: “We don’t need them.

“The report refers to activities which are likely to be persisting or continuing but we don’t have any examples of that need.

“It’s a piece of paper to intimidate the public.”

The town council’s recreation and works committee voted by three to two in favour of recommending to all its members PSPOs are sought for its halls.

The final decision is likely to be made at the full council meeting on April 11 at the Folk Hall, in High Street.

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