NEW questions have been raised over the legitimacy of an order banning rough sleeping in Poole as it conflicts with new guidance from the government.

In December, the Home Office updated its statutory guidance on the use of Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) and stated they “should not be used to target people based solely on the fact that someone is homeless or rough sleeping, as this in itself is unlikely to mean that such behaviour is having an unreasonably detrimental effect on the community’s quality of life which justifies the restrictions imposed.”

It adds: “Councils may receive complaints about homeless people, but they should consider whether the use of a Public Space Protection Order is the appropriate response.”

The council has come under fire since a PSPO was introduced in the town centre this week after it transpired the decision was made by a delegated officer and was not scrutinised by councillors at committee.

The PSPO, which came into force on Thursday, prohibits a number of activities in the town centre and surrounding areas including begging, rough sleeping, drinking alcohol and drug taking.

Opposition councillor Mike Brooke said yesterday that Mid Dorset and North Poole Lib Dems were calling in the decision.

“This is due to the lack of scrutiny and the fact it was an inappropriate officer decision,” he said.

“I’ve been looking at the consultation report, and I’m amazed it’s been kept away from councillors – when you go through the figures, a significant majority see rough sleeping as a problem, but the majority said a PSPO was not the appropriate way to handle it.

“So why on earth has it been included in the order?”

Poole council’s chief executive Andrew Flockhart and director of legal and democratic services Tanya Coulter discussed the new PSPO at a meeting on Thursday.

“Tanya Coulter is not happy with some aspect of it,” Cllr Brooke said.

“The decision was made under wraps,” he added.

Charity worker David Wood, of Help 4 Homeless Veterans, said he helped ensure a similar PSPO in Trowbridge did not target homeless people.

“Before they brought it in, they held a public meeting about it. I spoke at the meeting about a Supreme Court ruling in 2015 which classed homeless people as vulnerable.

“Wiltshire council had to give assurances that the new PSPO would not be used against homeless people,” he said.


THE results of a consultation carried out last year about a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) in Poole town centre have only just been published due to an “administrative oversight”, a councillor said.

A report written in November 2017 after the consultation, which ended in October, was only published on Thursday - the same day the new PSPO was introduced.

Cllr Karen Rampton, cabinet portfolio holder for housing and communities, said: “The consultation results were shared with the cabinet portfolio holder, relevant ward councillors and other key stakeholders such as local businesses, tourism and resident groups.

“These results were meant to be published online but due to an administrative oversight this did not happen. They have now been published and can be viewed on the council’s website.”

She added: “The consultation identifies that rough sleeping and begging are key problems in the town centre and Holes Bay area.”