Majority responding to Tunbridge Wells begging consultation are in favour

    PLANS to introduce Public Space Protection Orders [PSPOs] to tackle ‘professional begging’ have been largely supported by the public in a consultation.

    Tunbridge Wells Borough Council [TWBC] recorded mainly positive feedback to the scheme in a two month public consultation which ended last week.

    PSPOs could see, as a last resort, on-the-spot fines imposed to tackle antisocial behaviour relating to begging.

    Analysis by this newspaper of results available on TWBC’s website found around two thirds of 160 respondents voted in support of the proposed measures.


    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.

    All those who took part were given the chance to comment.

    Some of those in favour included: “As long as support is given to those affected I would support this idea.”

    Another respondent wrote: “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.”

    A third commented: “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.”

    Early opposition to the scheme led to more than 6,000 signing a petition calling on Town Hall not to enforce PSPOs for begging.

    This was reflected in parts of the consultation, with one unnamed respondent commenting: “This is immoral and shameful.

    “When the council has sufficient housing and support services for these people, then it would more appropriate than to issue penalty notice and fines. Let’s deal with the cause not the symptom.”

    Another bluntly commented: “I hope this is a joke.”

    The results of the PSPO consultation will go to TWBC’s Cabinet Advisory Board on March 21, Cabinet on April 12 and Full Council on April 25.

    Councillor Lynne Weatherly, Cabinet member for Communities and Wellbeing, said: “There’s been a good response to the consultation.

    “Comment people have made will be taken into consideration.