The outcome of the public consultation on a potential new Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) to support a safe, clean and welcoming Manchester city centre has been published.
Over 2,000 people took part in the consultation and the council has recommended to proceed with the city centre PSPO with some changes to the originally proposed prohibitions – including the removal of a proposal to include aggressive or intimidating begging in the order.
The following have been recommended
Consuming alcohol in a public space other than a licensed premises or area.
This is a condition already covered in the existing city centre PSPO.
Discarding hypodermic needles or syringes in a public space (except a proper sharps container)
This was a particular issue for city centre residents with 67% who responded on this issue saying it was a major problem.
Urinating or defecating in a public place other than a toilet
The council has committed to extending the opening hours of the Lloyd Street public toilets.
Failing to store commercial waste responsibly or arrange for its timely collection
The following requirements are also recommended as part of the PSPO:
Anyone who has placed commercial waste that is not properly contained in a public place should immediately clear it if asked to do by an authorised officer.
Anyone who obstructing a building entrance or exit or stairwell, or a footpath or road in such a way that pedestrians and vehicles can’t get past, must move within a reasonable time if asked to do so by an authorised officer.
Anyone who is occupying a tent or other structure in a way which causes a health hazard should move it within a reasonable time if asked to do so by an authorised officer
Aggressive or intimidating begging was included in the original proposed PSPO. Almost half of the people who responded to this part of the consultation (766 out of 1,597) said begging had a detrimental impact on their quality of life and a majority said it should be in the PSPO.
However, the majority of people did not agree with enforcement against people for aggressive or intimidating begging.
Engagement work with people who are begging – which is being pioneered by the council, police, voluntary and community organisations and other partners – is helping people reduce begging by supporting them to address some of the issues which have driven them to it.
It is therefore considered that a PSPO prohibition, which would only be enforceable by a fine, would not be effective in reducing anti-social begging and tackling vulnerable people’s underlying needs and it is not included in the revised order.
Councillor Nigel Murphy, deputy leader of Manchester City Council, said: “We have said throughout this process that we had an open mind and would listen to and carefully consider what people told us. That’s exactly what we’ve done.
“Our priority will always be to support anyone who is in need and connect them with services which can help them improve their lives. Our approach is assertive but supportive.
“However we refuse to pretend, as some would have us do, that there are not issues which have a detrimental impact on people in the city centre which need to be positively addressed. It is easy to dismiss such concerns when you haven’t, for example, got discarded needles in your garden or someone sprawled on your stairwell.
“I am confident that this proposed city centre PSPO will strike the right balance between being clear that there are certain anti-social behaviours which cannot be tolerated and ensuring an appropriate and proportional response.
“This is not a magic wand but it is an extra tool for the council and police to help address issues which have a negative impact on people’s experience of the city centre.”