Homeless people in two affluent suburbs in England’s, Nottinghamshire, have been threatened with £100 fines.
Rushcliffe Borough Council says that rough sleepers have been “causing a nuisance”, and as such fixed penalty notices would be used as a last resort
Those failing to pay the initial £100 notice could be prosecuted, with the maximum fine being £1,000.
Rushcliffe is using powers introduced in 2014,Public Spaces Protection Orders ( PSPO), which allow councils to ban certain activities if they have “a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality”.
The Public Spaces Protection Order will be used to control street drinking and rough sleeping across various parts area of West Bridgford, and also parts of Edwalton.
Councillors have approved the plans and Rushcliffe Borough Council say they are due to come into force “shortly”.
Campaign group Liberty said the fines were “cruel” and have called on the government to scrap powers allowing them.
The BBC reports:
There has been outrage about the plans on social media.
King Timothy Baker wrote on the BBC East Midlands Today Facebook page: “Where are you going to send the fines, a bench, shop doorway, third tree on the left. Talk about rob the poor to fill your pockets.”
BBC Radio Nottingham listener Debbie Morley wrote: “This idea of fining the poorest, most vulnerable members of society is shameful!!!”
Paula Senior asked the borough council to be more “understanding” in her post: “No one gives up their family or home without a difficult circumstances/story from their past. They need help, guidance and understanding.”
Rosie Brighouse, legal officer for Liberty, said PSPOs are “blunt instruments prone to misuse”.
“A cruel trend has developed of councils using these powers against the most vulnerable in society,” she said.
“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.”
Bosworth MP David Tredinnick compared the Rushcliffe fines to people being forbidden from sleeping under bridges before the French Revolution.
“You can read about that historically, that was one of the causes of the French Revolution,” said the Conservative MP.
“Those people sleeping rough have not got £100 to spend on a fine so I think we that needs to be revisited.”
The Labour MP for Chesterfield, Toby Perkins, said: “It seems a pretty bad way of trying to deal with the homelessness problem, to fine the people who are victims of that.
“We need to solve the housing crisis, not punish the people who are victims of it.”