Proposed variations to an order designed to curb anti-social behaviour in the town centre will be available for the public to comment on from today, 27 October.
The current Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), which was introduced almost a year ago, focuses on issues such as keeping dogs on leads, begging, aggressive charity collecting and drinking in public.
It also prohibits peddling or street trading, marking surfaces without the permission of the council, as well as skateboarding.
Following feedback from members of the public and local businesses and close monitoring of behaviour in the area, Swindon Borough Council, Wiltshire Police and inSwindon BID Company have proposed a number of amendments to the existing order.
PSPOs were introduced as part of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and are primarily aimed at changing and improving behaviour.
Anyone caught breaching the order will be advised to stop their activity and, if they fail to do so, a fixed penalty notice may be issued. The fixed penalty is set at £100 and, if not paid, could result in court fines of up to £1,000.
Since the PSPO was introduced in the town centre, officers from the Council, Wiltshire Police and inSwindon have spoken to and offered advice to more than 2,000 individuals who were contravening the order. As every individual approached stopped their activity following the advice, no fines have been issued.
Following the success of the ‘warning and informing’ policy, it is proposed to slightly extend increase the area of the PSPO so it now covers Regent Circus, the public thoroughfares into the town centre from Swindon railway station and the area around Spring Gardens.
The proposed amendments to the order include allowing authorised events in the town centre to be exempt from the alcohol restriction in the PSPO, while it is also proposed to extend the skateboarding prohibition to include car parks and pedestrianised areas.
Under the new restrictions dog owners would be required to keep their pets on a lead no longer than two metres in length and it is proposed to remove the restriction on peddling and street trading as the activities can be adequately dealt with by existing legislation and policy.
It is also proposed to remove the restrictions on marking surfaces/chalking and aggressive charity collecting as shoppers and businesses have reported there is no longer an issue with these activities.
A variation on the restriction around begging has been proposed, which prohibits begging in a manner which causes, or is likely to cause, nuisance or annoyance to any member of the public or business.
The consultation notes that officers will not issue any fixed penalty notices to individuals who are found to be genuinely homeless or in a position where they are unable to pay a fine, in line with the Council’s policy.
Help and advice from partner agencies will continue to be offered to those people in need.
An additional restriction on cycling in pedestrianised areas is also being put forward for inclusion in the PSPO following a number of complaints.
The consultation will open tomorrow (27 Oct) and run for six weeks, closing at 12noon on Thursday, 8 December. Members of the public can access the consultation by visiting – www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SwindonPSPO
Cllr Oliver Donachie, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Homelessness, said: “The restrictions in the PSPO are there to clamp down on certain behaviours which are having a detrimental effect on people who are visiting the town centre.
“It is not about fining people, as the first year of the order has shown. It is instead about making the town centre a place that people want to visit. We want to educate people so they refrain from anti-social behaviour and it is pleasing that every single person who was spoken to for breaching the order stopped what they were doing.
“We have monitored the original restrictions in the order and obtained feedback on what we need to change, which is why we are carrying out this consultation, so I would encourage people to let us know what they think about the proposed alterations to the PSPO.”