A PROTEST has been held in Poole against the controversial public space protection order which now covers the town centre.

Poole Labour Party, along with other community groups, organised the protest on Monday (April 16) night in a bid to show their solidarity with rough sleepers.

The group said they wanted to occupy doorways and other areas to highlight the "callousness" of the Conservative-led council.

Sarah Ward, Poole Labour Party’s housing officer, said:"Rough sleepers have been let down by the authorities.

"The council’s failure to provide enough affordable housing, combined with the Conservative government’s cutting of benefits for those in need is the root cause of the problem.

"Since the Conservatives came to power, homelessness in the UK has gone up 170 per cent, and it seems they just don’t care."

Artist Stuart Semple, who led the opposition to Bournemouth Council's anti-homeless benches earlier this year, also tweeted about the protest, urging people to take part.

Members of Borough of Poole’s cabinet gave the green light to implement the Public Space Protection Order in the town centre and Holes Bay last month. It came into force this week.

The authority says the move is to help make the area a safe and more welcoming place, but it has faced opposition from campaigners who claim it targets rough sleepers.

The order covers:

Begging for money, food or drink

Using a receptacle for the purpose of begging

Unattended belongings, baggage and bags

Possession, supply or use of intoxicating substances

Behaviour likely to cause nuisance, harassment, alarm or distress to others.