New powers to tackle street drinking agreed despite public thumbs down

Christmas lights damaged by high winds in East Street, Chichester SUS-151121-171515001
Christmas lights damaged by high winds in East Street, Chichester SUS-151121-171515001

New powers to crack down on street drinking and illegal street trading in Chichester city centre will go ahead – despite residents being against proposals.

A total of 51.7 per cent of those who responded to a consultation were against Chichester District Council imposing a Public Spaces Protection Order. The powers would enable police and council officers to hand out £100 fixed penalty notices for those who do not comply with them.

But despite the majority of residents being against proposals, CDC cabinet members agreed to forge ahead.

Councillor Roger Barrow, cabinet member for environment, said: “I think we should support it. It is not being heavy-handed and it doesn’t have to be used if there is not a problem but it is a tool we can use if we need to.”

The PSPO would require those in possession of alcohol in the city centre to hand it over to officers, in order to prevent public nuisance.

It would also prevent pedlars stopping in a single location for prolonged periods.

The PSPO replaces the similar, but outdated, Designated Public Place Orders.

Authorities must provide evidence to demonstrate the need for a PSPO and hold a public consultation.

In analysing the results, a report to cabinet admitted most did not support the idea.

It read: “Overall, according to the results of this survey, neither street drinking nor illegal street trading is particularly prevalent in Chichester city.

“Generally, survey respondents believed that neither issue had got better or worse over the last 12 months and the vast majority said they had not been personally affected by either issue in the same period.”

Despite the overall result, the report highlighted stronger support from certain parts of the community.

This included support of 60 per cent of city centre retailers.

When asked to clarify what evidence had been used to demonstrate the need for a PSPO, a CDC spokesman said: “Consultation is an important element of the evidence base for the PSPO. It is however supported by and complementary to, further evidence from partner agencies such as the police, the city council and the West Sussex County Council highways department.

“Officers of this council also took into account the history of complaints from members of the public and the impact of behaviours on events held in the city. Partly the PSPO replaces existing controls and the impact of behaviour on the city residents and visitors prior to those controls was also taken into account.

“Members were careful to balance all of the behaviours to give direction to officers to review the impact of the PSPO early next year, as this is a new power.”

PSPOs have courted controversy across the country, with some councils tackling rough sleeping, among other issues.