For two months the public were invited to comment on Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s proposals to introduce Public Space Protection Orders.
Last week the consultation finished, with 160 people taking the opportunity to have their say. The Times found around two thirds were in support of motions in relation to begging which could, as a last resort, see people fined.
Town Hall has previously stressed a need to eliminate ‘professional begging’.
The public was asked: Do you support the use of PSPOs to deter the unauthorised collecting of money in public spaces and address antisocial behaviour associated with begging?
To this 66 per cent said they were in favour.
And: Do you support the use of PSPOs to manage antisocial behaviour associated with rough sleeping in multi-storey car parks and other public spaces in Tunbridge Wells town centre?
To this 64 per cent said they were in favour.
What do you think to the below? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.
“Apart from being unsightly, they don’t really affect me. I am fortunate to have a roof over my head.”
“As long as support is given to those affected I would support this idea.”
“I’m curious to know what drives the increase in rough sleeping. Surely its useless issuing penalty notices & fines to homeless people who have no home or ability to pay. This is immoral and shameful. When the council has sufficient housing & support services for these people, then it would more appropriate to issue penalty notice and fines. Let’s deal with the cause not the symptom.”
“As a small woman aged 70 years I feel threatened even in day light and frightened to use parking structures.”
“As you say, it would be no good fining them. Are there other places they can go?”
“I can understand that action is required. It is not nice to see people sleeping rough and if they create litter and are abusive then that is a problem. However, this is not to say that I want them simply moved on without sensitivity or an understanding of why they are where they are. Again, the issue is difficult. I don’t think penalties are the answer and will most likely be unenforceable.”
“Fining rough sleepers is not the answer more should be done to get them of the streets. This is not the right way to collect money for causes.”
“But if people choose to give without being asked then this is up to them. There should also be a three strikes system of some kind to avoid the persecution of the truly impoverished. “
“Contrary to what is claimed above, begging and rough sleeping were exceptional in the past. The increase has been driven by government policies on housing and benefits. This is a national issue which will not be solved by criminalising people on the street. “
“If rough sleepers are to be moved on, does the council provide accommodation and proper support to address their problems? If not, then this proposal could be viewed under certain circumstances as the licenced harassment of disadvantaged people. Present support seems to rely on volunteers picking up the pieces.”
“I am absolutely against the use of contractors to deal with people with social and psychological problems. We have seen the consequences of this in prisons and immigration control. Services should be provided by individuals employed by and directly accountable to the council, or approved voluntary organisations if they are willing.”
“The Government and the council should be asking why we have got into this situation, and looking to deal with the causes along with the symptoms. The problem needs more than initiatives by individual LA’s, especially if these simply result in the individuals moving on to do the same somewhere else.”
“I think that there are some ‘professionals’ at work – this was particularly noticeable at Christmas. The bulk of beggars though are probably in need of help.”
“Absolutely not. Waste funding on penalising the vulnerable? Far better to offer funding for compassionate and caring services. The imposed austerity has caused so many problems. Maybe if the Council used money more appropriately it could help rather than hinder. Would much rather see the civic building money used to help those in need.”
“It seems like a good idea as long as support is provided to those affected and they’re not just moved along.”
“I would also like to see some support for the people who are being targeted by this measure – if their home is the Jacques Vert doorway, and we PSPO it, then what is the person we have fined/moved on meant to do? We need solutions to the problem, not just measures to stop it happening in specific locations.”
“I hope this is a joke.”
“Unsightly in Royal Tunbridge Wells, drags the town down.”
“They need to be moved on. If it means handing out fines then that is what must happen, but they need to be moved on.”
“Nobody wants to see beggars in their town, I am sure that there are real issues regarding their need to beg and receive our care and support.”
“The people who do this are desperate. No-one wants to be homeless. The benefit system is inadequate and housing is impossible in this area unless one has plenty of money. Is there room in hostels and would they take dogs? We need much more social housing. If the people are causing a disturbance then they should be dealt with in a caring manner.”
“It should be an offence which the individuals should be prosecuted.”
“It is wrong to use a fine as a sanction against begging. It will cost the state money to enforce it and will not help the problem. Difficult I know but historically there has always been this tension.Between tolerating beggars and penalising them and moving them on. Provide more solutions to deal with the symptoms. That is the challenge for the council….. not blaming the victims of the policies being pursued by central government.”