The Mayor invited the Cabinet Member for Licensing and Regulation to present the report.
The Cabinet Member for Licensing and Regulation informed members that the report recommended that the Council resolved to approve and adopt a revised Public Spaces Protection Order (“PSPO”) for the City Centre for a further period of three years, as set out in Appendix A of the report.
A Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) was designed to prevent individuals or groups committing persistent anti-social behaviour in a public space where the behaviour was, or was likely to have, a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality. Only the Council could make a PSPO but both Police and Council Officers could undertake enforcement activities. Anyone who breached the PSPO could be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice or was liable to a fine in the magistrates’ court.
The first City Centre PSPO for Newport was made in November 2015, following extensive public consultation and oversight by Scrutiny. The original PSPO was then replaced by a revised Order in 2018. The PSPO had to be reviewed every 3 years to consider whether there was a continuing need for the control measures.
In accordance with the legislation and the statutory guidance, the Council was required to consult with the Police and the wider community. The results of the engagement with key stakeholders and the public responses to the wider consultation were contained within the Report.
The current PSPO restrictions were mainly enforced by Gwent Police and Police colleagues had been involved in the review process and attended both Scrutiny Management Committee meetings. They were supportive of the continuation of the PSPO restrictions and were confident that these control measures would assist them to regulate the city centre more effectively.
The Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee considered the Police comments and the consultation responses and were satisfied that there was a continuing need for a City Centre PSPO. They were recommending that it be renewed on the same terms as previously, but with the inclusion of one additional control measure relating to the dangerous use of e-bikes and e-scooters. However, the final decision regarding the adoption of any PSPO was a matter for full Council.
When considering the need for and the impact of any PSPO, the Council had to have regard to its public sector equality duty and its socio-economic duty and, therefore, a Fairness and Equality Impact Assessment was been carried out, which was also attached to this report. The proposed control measures were considered to be a reasonable and proportionate means of preventing or reducing the detrimental impact of this type of anti-social behaviour within the City Centre.
Councillor Truman moved that the Council resolved to approve and adopt the City Centre PSPO as set out in the report.
Comments from Councillors:
§ As Chair of the Scrutiny Committee that reviewed the renewed PSPO, Councillor Lacey thanked the officers, external agencies and the committee members for the time that was spent making sure that the order presented today was evidence based, demonstrating a necessary and proportionate outcome for what was needed within the city centre.
On coming to the conclusion to recommend the PSPO as presented, the Scrutiny Committee took advice from the officers, Head of Law and Standards as well as Gwent Police. All parties were strongly recommending the order as presented today. Councillor Lacey therefore supported the approval of this order.
§ Councillor M Evans reluctantly supported the report and remained disappointed that there was not a complete ban on begging. While there were human rights issues, it was worth noting that residents had a right to visit the city centre without being asked for money, giving that providing money was often counter -productive and associations were available to assist the homeless. This therefore needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
§ Councillor H Townsend welcomed the action taken on e-bikes and e-scooters within the city centre but did not agree with the measures taken on the homelessness who she felt were being penalised. Councillor Townsend therefore did not support the motion.
§ Councillor Ferris mentioned a recent conversation with a couple who did not visit Newport as they did not feel safe because of the aggressive begging. He also had a similar experience when collecting money for charity and was asked to move on. It was also not acceptable for electric scooters to drive at speed.
§ The Leader referred to Cllr Lacey’s comments regarding the evidence-based proposal and the data gathering exercise and put their proposals forward. This was not based on perception but factual evidence, which must be taken into account. There were various opposing arguments however, the Leader made it clear that there were continuing operations to support the homeless. The pandemic was transformational in how help was provided for the vulnerable and in what the Council was able to do. The Leader considered therefore that the report was reasonable.
That the Council adopt and implement the City Centre PSPO (2021-2024), as set out in the report..