Michele Harriman-Smith, chief executive of Childrensalon

Business leaders will meet to discuss how to best help homeless people in the town on the back of a petition that gathered 6,000 signatures.

Childrensalon, one of the town’s largest employers, held talks with Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) over concerns about proposals to introduce on-the-spot fines to people begging.

A company spokesman said they had been reassured plans for Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs), currently under consultation, do not represent an attack on the homeless.

The company would like to see people on the streets mentored, supported and possibly helped into work.

The firm’s petition gathered 5,970 names, following a story in the Times, although Childrensalon is no longer promoting the campaign on its website.

Denise Hamilton, Director of Childrensalon’s People Team, said: “We had a successful and collaborative meeting with the council and we now realise they are not going to be handing out fines to anyone begging.

“From what they told us, the fines will be an absolute last resort for people who are professionally begging or have refused help.

“Along with the council, we are going to meet with other businesses to discuss what we can do to alleviate homelessness.

“We could potentially look at how we can volunteer and mentor to help the homeless and look to provide employment options.”

The authority has previously stated: “The proposal is not to prohibit begging or rough sleeping but to deal with it very carefully and with discretion.

“We quite understand that there is no point in fining someone who has no money.”

Under plans for PSPOs, put forward to consultation by TWBC, on-the-spot fines will also be used to stamp out street drinking and dog fouling.