Decision Maker Response

Oxford City Council’s response

May 20, 2015 — The City Council has been consulting over the past three months on the possible scope of a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) for the city centre area that would provide new powers to deal with a range of anti-social behaviours and activities.

The City Executive Board (CEB) will consider a report on the 11 June which will propose that an Order should be established which would give designated City Council officers and the Police powers to tackle:
Persistent and aggressive begging
Sleeping in toilets
Urinating or defecating in public places
Cycling in controlled zones outside the permitted times
Busking which is in breach of the council's code of conduct
Pedlars who do not observe the council's code of conduct
Street drinking in circumstances which endanger public safety
Graffiti vandalism
Out-of-control dogs

Offences can be met with a £100 Fixed Penalty Notice or, if prosecuted through the courts, a £1,000 fine.

The PSPO will give the City Council and Police more direct ways of tackling some of these issues for the first time. For example, although the City Council has had a code of conduct for buskers and street pedlars for some years, they are not currently backed by any enforcement measures.

The draft proposals to deal with pigeon nuisance and with rough sleepers who have been provided with indoor accommodation but fail to use it have not been included in the recommendations to the CEB. In both case, the consultation process indicated that an Order of this type was not likely to be the most effective way of tackling these issues.

Council Leader Bob Price said:

"The proposal has been developed by the Council's Anti-Social Behaviour team in response to complaints from city centre traders, residents and visitors about a range of anti-social and nuisance behaviour.
"It seeks to provide a clear framework for city centre activities which will maintain the vibrant and active character that we enjoy throughout the year, while dealing with effectively with behaviours that could damage the quality of the city centre experience for shopping, eating and entertainment.
"It will provide legal powers for the first time to tackle persistent offenders who cause a nuisance."
In relation to the expressions of concern about the potential impact of the consultation proposal in relation to rough sleepers, Councillor Price said that they would not have affected the Council’s policies to support rough sleepers into accommodation.

He said: "The draft proposed additional powers to deal with a small number of people who continue to sleep rough in the city centre despite having accommodation.
"We have discussed the proposal with our partners in dealing with homelessness and have concluded that there are more effective ways of tackling this problem; that section is not included in the current draft of the PSPO.
"Tackling homelessness is and will always remain a top priority for the council - this year alone we will spend almost £1.4m tackling the issue."

The proposed PSPO will first be discussed at a Scrutiny Committee meeting on 2 June. Papers for this meeting will be released later this week.

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