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Call for more paths to be added to town centre’s PSPO area

By Kerry Ashdown | Stafford | News | Published:

Stone community leaders have asked for more town centre areas to be added to a space facing crackdown on antisocial behaviour and “chuggers”.

Stone High Street

Stafford Borough Council is currently consulting residents and organisations on plans to extend restrictions in areas covered by Public Space Protection Orders. Anyone caught drinking alcohol or carrying open containers of booze in areas covered by the order, such as parts of Stone Town Centre, can face a penalty for flouting the rules.

Now the borough council is considering extending the restrictions to cover activities such as “chugging”, which involves fundraisers seeking bank details from passers-by to make regular charity donations. Areas in Stone town centre set to be covered by the PSPO include the High Street, Westbridge Park, Radford Street, Church Street, Lichfield Street and Crown Meadow.

Stone Town Council considered the proposals at its latest meeting.

Councillor Rob Kenney called for other paths to be added to the area covered by the PSPO, including a route between Crown Street and Workhouse Lane.

He said: “It should be included because anybody could go there drinking and doing what they wish in the middle.”

Councillor Ian Fordham said: “They missed out Mill Street and Adies Alley – it seems a bit strange.”

Councillor Mark Hatton questioned the policing of groups of five or more people in the area covered by the order however.

He said: “I did find the wording peculiar – you might have more than five people on Westbridge Park. The wording is very open to discretion for a police officer. I felt it needed a bit more written in the wording.”

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But council clerk Les Trigg said the mention of five or more people referred to groups considered to be loitering or causing intimidation. “It isn’t just five people out for a walk – it’s five people expressing intimidating behaviour”, he added.

Councillor Jill Hood said: “Five young people wearing hoods with their hands in their pockets and their heads down are considered intimidating by some – I see them as five kids enjoying themselves.

“I think that’s the most ridiculous wording – why five? Have they got something about groups of five – it’s the same as (the restriction on walking) five or more dogs.”

A Stafford Borough Council report presented to Stone Town Council said: “Currently there are two PSPOs containing restrictions around alcohol in Stafford Borough which cover both Stafford and Stone town centres.

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“Currently there have not been any Community Protection Warning letters or fixed penalty notices issued regarding street drinking related anti-social behaviour in Stone.

“It is proposed that the council enhances the current PSPOs for both Stafford and Stone Town Centres in terms of geographical locations and also the restrictions contained within them.

“The PSPO proposal contains provision for alcohol restriction, restrictions on motor vehicles, bikes, scooters, skateboards, roller skates, groups of five or more loitering causing intimidation, tents and organisations canvassing for bank details or sale of services by direct debit or face to face fund raisers.”

Kerry Ashdown

By Kerry Ashdown
@KerryAshdownLDR

Local Democracy Reporter covering Staffordshire.

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