Gosport people and businesses are being asked for their views on new powers to tackle anti-social behaviour in the town centre.
The council is proposing to crack down on public drinking and drug activity, and aggressive begging. It would do this with a new public spaces protection order (PSPO).
We have to consult residents, partners and other stakeholders such as local businesses before making a decision on whether to introduce the PSPO.
Anyone breaching the PSPO would be moved on from wherever they were creating problems, and would not be allowed back within 12 hours. They would face a fixed penalty of up to £100 or a court fine of up to £1,000. Or they could be offered an acceptable behaviour contract, which could include a promise to seek professional help or clean up mess they had made.
The order would cover harassment and other alarming or distressing behaviour linked to drink or drugs. It would include people relieving themselves in public.
Cllr Graham Burgess, Chairman of the council’s Community Board, said:
“This new order would beef up the powers we and the police already have, and would be more flexible. Council officers as well as police would have the power to ask people to disperse.
“We have a responsibility to protect residents from this kind of behaviour as they go about their day-to-day business, shopping or travelling to work.
“We can’t put up with people loitering in groups drinking alcohol, shouting abuse, and harassing people for money when they use cash machines or buy ferry tickets.
“We can’t tolerate people using or dealing drugs in public, and leaving needles lying around. Nor can we put up with people urinating, or worse, in passageways at the bus station or off the High Street.
“I hope local people will fill in our quick survey and let us know what they think of these proposed new powers.
“This order is aimed at certain types of behaviour, not certain types of people. It would go hand-in-hand with continued support for people who need help with addiction, homelessness and other issues.”
The decision on whether to introduce the PSPO will be made at a public meeting of the council’s Community Board at 6pm on 17 October at the Town Hall.
If adopted the proposed PSPO would come into force in November. In the meantime the council will work with police and continue to use its existing powers to tackle problems in the town centre.
On council land, such as the bus station, the Falkland Gardens and the Ramparts, the council can obtain eviction orders in court to remove groups causing anti-social behaviour. Shop doorways are privately-owned, so the council cannot move rough sleepers from these areas. But it has written to businesses asking for help.
To comment on the proposed PSPO
To have your say, you can fill in a quick survey.
If you don’t have internet access you can get a printed version of the survey from the main reception desk at the town hall.
The survey is open until 6th October.
Council help for homeless people and rough sleepers
Council workers, as well as police and charities, regularly engage with rough sleepers on the street and offer them support in finding temporary accommodation and dealing with addiction or mental health issues. However, some individuals will not engage in this process.
For a small council, Gosport has an unusually large number of hostel places for homeless people, and recently spent £2m on refurbishing the properties. The council’s hostels have space for up to 170 people, including homeless families and single people such as rough sleepers.
In the last 12 months the council has provided long-term accommodation to 109 homeless applicants.
The council chairs a group of local organisations which meets regularly to address issues related to rough sleeping.
The council works closely with Two Saints, which runs a drop-in hostel at 101 Gosport Road.