Beggars and drinkers could be banned from Blackpool streets

Street beggars, legal highs and rogue charity collectors are all in the sights as part of a bid to clean up the streets of Blackpool.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 20th January 2015, 9:02 am
Drunken behaviour on the streets of Blackpool
Drunken behaviour on the streets of Blackpool

Stag and hen parties are also the target of a blanket ban on a wide range of anti-social behaviour being drawn up by town hall chiefs.

Blackpool Council said its proposal to outlaw various nuisance activities in the town centre and on the Promenade, under new powers granted by the Government, would help cut crime in the resort.

The planned Public Spaces Protection Order, which the council hopes to consult on in May, would ban:

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Drinking in the street

Loitering around cash machines and shop entrances

So-called “rag mag” sellers falsely claiming to be raising money for charity

Legal highs

Street traders selling lucky charms and heather.

Coun Gillian Campbell, cabinet member for public safety and enforcement, said: “Public Space Protection Orders are new legal powers which were introduced in October and give councils increased scope to set their own local laws to help prevent problematic behaviour in particular areas.

“We’ve put forward a series of initial proposals in consultation with the police and others but we are open-minded as to how we progress.”

A report to cabinet members ahead of a meeting on Monday sets out plans for a separate order that would cover Blackpool’s parks and green spaces.

It would update archaic byelaws, dating back to 1875, that prohibit people from beating, shaking or sweeping a drugget – a woven fabric used to make floor coverings – and from bringing into parks “cattle, goats (or) beasts of burden”.

Members of the cabinet will vote on recommendations to hold a 12-week consultation, starting in May, over the council’s use of the new powers.

The report to councillors says banning street drinking would help cut alcohol-related crime, which accounts for more than half of reported offences.

It adds: “In attempting to change the negative perceptions of Blackpool, targeting street drinking may help reduce the visibility of stag and hen parties who carry inappropriate items or wear inappropriate clothes, reducing their impact on families with younger and children.

“Prohibiting people from drinking in the street would encourage them to remain inside bars and clubs where they are less likely to clash with non-drinkers.”

Current rules allow open alcohol containers to be seized but do not prevent drinking on the street.

Insp James Martin, of Blackpool Police, who covers the town centre, backed calls to tighten up the laws around street drinking.

He said: “It generally looks untidy, if you’ve got a visitor coming to Blackpool and they see hardened alcoholics on the street drinking out of cans.

“We fully support the council and police are providing evidence to support the council in its application.”

He said police currently make use of existing powers to seize alcohol from street drinkers “on a daily basis”. Under the new orders, council officers and PCSOs would also have the power to enforce the rules.

Craig Southall, Pubwatch chairman for Blackpool, was involved in discussions with the council over the measures that could be included in the orders.

He said: “Street drinking is a problem – it’s intimidating for people and puts them off visiting.

“Anything to do with street drinking and begging, if you can remove that element from the town centre it can only be positive.

“My only concern is the enforcement and how it is going to work.

“But we are moving some way towards zoning in the town and it’s a step in the right direction.

“It will help people coming to Blackpool – they will know where they need to be. Blackpool is big enough for everyone.”

Hugh Evans, of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, accused the council of playing “catch up” with the plans.

He said: “A well managed town centre is essential if the town is going to attract visitors – it’s a very worthwhile move

“But many towns and cities are well down the road when it comes to these matters.

“It is welcome but I think this sort of thing should have been done a long time ago.”

The council said banning nuisance salesmen would not include those working on behalf of legitimate charities – such as Big Issue sellers.