A POOLE resident who said she once felt “frighteningly close to experiencing street homelessness” has hit a stumbling block in her bid to quash a ban on rough sleeper activities in the town centre.

Sarah Ward, who is chair of Poole Labour Party, sought help from human rights organisation Liberty to challenge the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) made by the former Borough of Poole.

The PSPO, which came into effect in April 2018, includes prohibitions on begging and leaving belongings, such as bedding or bags, unattended.

Ms Ward, who believes the order unlawfully targets rough sleepers, is seeking to challenge its validity under section 66 of the 2014 Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act.

However, Liberty’s attempt to secure legal aid on her behalf has failed.

The Director of Legal Aid Casework refused Ms Ward’s application last year. Liberty applied to seek a judicial review against that refusal, which has now been dismissed by a High Court judge.

A spokesperson for Liberty said the group was “currently considering whether to appeal [the decision]” and hoped to keep Ms Ward’s case “on hold” until she is able to secure legal aid.

During the hearing in March, details of which were published earlier this month, Mr Justice Murray considered whether Ms Ward’s application was within the scope of civil legal aid.

In a witness statement, Ms Ward said she did not want “anyone in the Poole PSPO area to risk being criminalised for sleeping rough or begging”.

As a single mother of three children, two of whom are disabled, Ms Ward said she was “reliant on state benefits” and feared that if she and her daughters lost their home then they would be “subject to the terms of the PSPO”.

In 2017, they were evicted from their rental home and faced being moved into emergency bed and breakfast accommodation by the council.

“In the end we were able to find a new home to rent but this situation left me feeling frighteningly close to experiencing street homelessness,” she said.

However, the judge said: “Neither Ms Ward’s status as a resident of Poole nor her longstanding professional and personal involvement in the issue of homelessness is sufficient in my view to mean that the Section 66 challenge would have the potential to produce a benefit to Ms Ward or a member of her family”.

A spokesperson for BCP Council declined to comment.