Plans to crackdown on professional begging a stage closer

What the garden looked like before

Plans to crackdown on professional begging now have the support of most residents, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council leaders believe.

The authority’s Cabinet passed proposals to introduce Public Space Protection Orders in a meeting this morning [Thursday, April 12].

If final approval is given, council and police officers will be able to implement orders to address antisocial behaviour related to: Dog fouling, dog control, new psychoactive substances, playing of amplified music, begging and rough sleeping.

This could see a fixed penalty notice, to a maximum value of £100, given to those failing to comply with an order.

The Cabinet’s decision followed months of discussion and many have raised objections with fears that beggars could be fined.

When the plans were heard at last month’s Cabinet Advisory Board, opposition Councillor Peter Lidstone said he would ‘question the logic’ behind applying a fine to someone who is homeless.

The council has clarified its stance and say only those begging who are judged to have refused all available help will be threatened with an order.

A related document states: ‘All persons are prohibited from approaching another person in order to beg and from sitting or loitering with any receptacle used to contain monies for the purpose of begging.

‘All persons are prohibited from sleeping rough in Tunbridge Wells town centre where there is associated antisocial behaviour.

‘Discretion will apply where there is no associated antisocial behaviour or where the person is engaging with services.’

Terry Hughes, the council’s Community Safety Manager, has previously said the move was focused on helping those in need.

He said the emphasis is on stopping ‘professional begging’ and that fines would only be used as a ‘last resort’.

Plans for the orders, which are set to replace Alcohol Control Zones, were put to the public in a consultation.

Council documents state 64 per cent of respondents were in favour of a need to ‘address antisocial behaviour associated with rough sleepers’ and 66 per cent were ‘in favour of plans to address antisocial behaviour related to begging’.

Cllr David Jukes, leader of the council’s ruling Conservative group, said: ‘We have had overwhelming support.

‘There has been a lot of consultation and it has been supportive of what we are doing.’

Cllr Jane March added: ‘I am glad that we made it clear about the discretion with rough sleeping, as that is something brought up in the Cabinet Advisory Board.’

Plans will go before the full council meeting on April 25.

Share this article

Recommended articles


Please enter a search term below.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter