MORE than 600 people have signed a petition demanding the removal of the Public Spaces Protection Order covering Poole town centre.

Borough of Poole introduced the controversial order last month. It prohibits rough sleeping, begging for money, food and drink in the town centre, Poole Quay, Poole Park, Sterte and Tatnam.

Anyone caught breaking the order, which also covers drinking alcohol and being verbally abusive and the possession, supply or use of drugs, could face a fine of up to £1,000.

Poole Labour Party, which is demanding council bosses rescind the order, has established the online petition.

Poole Labour Party chairman Katie Taylor said: "It is the Conservative-controlled council's failure to provide sufficient affordable housing combined with their own government's clampdown on benefits for those in need, which are the root causes of the horrifying increase in homelessness.

"The mere suggestion of fining the homeless still turns these vulnerable people into criminals in the eyes of the public, fostering suspicion rather than sympathy and shielding the real issues of austerity.

“In light of the tragic death of the homeless man ‘Kev’ in Bournemouth recently, Poole Council should think very carefully about these measures. I urge them to remove the clauses which will allow for a ban and fines for sleeping in doorways and car parks."