A BISHOP fears plans to ban begging across Poole will push the most vulnerable further out of the reach of help from homeless charities.

The Rt Revd Karen Gorham, Bishop of Sherborne, is urging people to respond to Borough of Poole’s consultation on Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) in the area.

The proposals, which have been created to help deal with issues such as anti-social behaviour, rough sleeping and shoplifting, affect three parts of Poole: the town centre and Holes Bay area, Ashley Road and surrounding areas, and Alexandra Park.

Although PSPOs were introduced to the latter two areas in December 2014, the council wants to renew and extend the powers of the existing orders.

It is proposing an additional measure for the town centre and Holes Bay area to stop people from sleeping overnight in any council-owned or privately-owned car park, as well as in the doorways of shops, churches, and offices.

If the plans are approved, anyone caught breaking the order would face a fine.

The Rt Revd, who is patron of the charity Routes to Roots, said she had discussed the matter with church and community leaders in Poole and most were concerned about the extent of the proposals.

“The key thing is how large an area they cover – it’s not one small area or park, but a whole swathe of town.

“I understand that street begging can be annoying or upsetting. My worry is that these plans will undermine the work that is being done by charities like Routes to Roots, with a demonstrated track record of helping people off the streets and into stability.

“As it stands, I fear Poole borough council’s Public Space Protection Order will simply move problems of begging and drinking on the street to other areas, where help to rebuild lives is less available or developed. We live in a messy world and we cannot simply wish problems away.”

The bishop’s plea follows a similar appeal from Poole reverend Lucy Holt who wrote to Ian Cooke, safer communities manager for the Borough of Poole, about the proposals.

As reported in the Daily Echo, Revd Holt said the order may result in the “criminalising” of those who need “serious and wide-ranging help”.

Mr Cooke said in the past few years incidents of anti-social behaviour had increased, particularly in the town centre, and a PSPO was “the best way to help us reduce these issues”.

The consultation ends on Monday, October 16. If the proposals are approved, they could be implemented later this year.