People who sleep rough in an affluent suburb of Nottingham are to be fined up to £100, the local authority has announced. Anyone who persistently fails the fixed penalty notice and continues to sleep rough in the West Bridgford area close to Trent Bridge cricket ground may be fined up to £1,000.
Rushcliffe Borough Council says the Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) will be introduced soon in a bid to stamp out anti-social behaviour in the area, including street drinking. However campaign group Liberty says the PSPOs are "blunt instruments prone to misuse."
David Banks from Rushcliffe Borough Council told the West Bridgford Wire website: "Police, police community support officers and council officers have certain powers to help tackle these behaviours which will help to prevent some of the associated issues, such as begging, urinating and defecating in the street, littering and aggressive or intimidating behaviour."
However Liberty's legal officer Rosie Brighouse told the BBC: "A cruel trend has developed of councils using these powers against the most vulnerable in society. Sleeping rough is not 'anti-social behaviour', and criminalising homelessness does nothing to address its underlying causes. The government needs to urgently scrap these dangerously overbroad powers."
Other councils have dropped plans to use PSPOs — introduced nationally in 2014 — to combat rough sleeping after local opposition to the idea. These included Hackney in London, Newport and Chester. Locals in Nottingham were also unhappy at the plan to penalise a group seen as some of the most vulnerable.
Sandra Jones wrote on Facebook: "Come on Nottinghamshire surely you would be better trying to solve the problem rather than kicking people when they are down!" Carolyn Hodgkin added: "Nottinghamshire land of Robin Hood who robbed the rich to give to the poor, turned around in 2016 , now rob the poor to give to the rich, this should not be happening. No brains on Notts Council?"