29 January 2016

Council consults on powers to protect open spaces

Additional powers to deal with specific anti-social behaviour in parks and open spaces could be introduced in Brighton & Hove.

The city council is consulting on a proposal to bring in Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO) in 12 parks where there is substantial evidence of nuisance taking place.

Consultation started this week with residents, community and voluntary groups, businesses and visitors on the proposed powers which would give council staff and the police additional enforcement powers through issuing fines or a summons.

The PSPOs would cover antisocial activities in parks identified by gathering evidence from calls to the council and the police. Incidents recorded included people living in vehicles and tents, driving on the grass, defecating, lighting fires and flytipping.

They would also give the council the power to require people to remove any vehicle, caravan, tent or other structure within 12 hours and dispose of items as well as provide a name and address when asked. Breaching a Public Space Protection Order would be a criminal offence.

Councillor Gill Mitchell, chair of the city’s environment committee, said: “We understand the frustration and upset caused by nuisance and antisocial behaviour in our open spaces. We have seen the misery caused by criminal and environmental damage as a result of activities such as driving large vehicles onto grass and flytipping. We have wonderful parks and we want to ensure everyone has access to them without being spoilt by a minority. We believe Public Space Protection Orders will be a useful addition to the work we already do to keep parks clean and safe.”

In choosing which parks to concentrate on the council took into account the number of unauthorised encampments in public parks and the sensitivity of the locations, such as heritage status and proximity to those living nearby.

When they are introduced Public Spaces Protection Orders impose conditions on the use of an area that apply to everyone. This helps authorities deal with particular nuisances or problems that are affecting the local community’s quality of life in that area. Once in place they remain in force for a maximum of three years.

The council will use people’s views to prepare a detailed proposal to take to committee. Give your views at http://consult.brighton-hove.gov.uk/portal