A LEGAL challenge was submitted to the High Court yesterday over the controversial ‘begging ban’ in Poole.

Resident Sarah Ward instructed lawyers to take the action against BCP Council in relation to the policy, which was created by the now abolished Borough of Poole in April 2018.

The Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) includes prohibitions on begging and leaving belongings, such as bedding or bags, unattended.

Ms Ward argues that the order unlawfully targets vulnerable rough sleepers. She is hoping a successful challenge will both create a change in Poole and spark a precedent against councils employing similar measures across the country.

As previously reported, the legal challenge had stalled when human rights organisation Liberty failed in an attempt to secure legal aid for Ms Ward.

However, after receiving £3,100 in a matter of days on fundraising website crowdjustice.com, she went back to the High Court yesterday with a submission for a costs capping order and the summary of her reasons for the case.

If approved, the order will limit the costs she is liable to pay the other side – BCP Council – if they win in a judicial review proceeding.

Ms Ward, who is chairman of Poole Labour Party but bringing the case as a private individual without financial support from the political group, said: “I think people can see how ludicrous the PSPO is.

“Introducing a ban like this is never going to be the answer to help rough sleepers and tackle homelessness.

“I had hoped with BCP Council taking over from Poole that we would see this reviewed by now but it has not come together.

“I have to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported the cause. They are all helping to try to make a difference.

“This case is really important for Poole but if we bring the case and we win it sends a clear message to other authorities.

“The council can put an end to this but I am happy to take the legal challenge forward. In terms of right now it is on them if they choose to review it.”

Councillor Vikki Slade, BCP Council leader, said: “We are fully committed to reviewing the use of a PSPO in Poole as part of a wider review which will consider how the council and its partners best tackle street-based anti-social behaviour across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

“We anticipate that that review will take place in February 2020.

“We await further information with regard to the legal challenge.”

When the PSPO was introduced by the Conservative-led Borough of Poole, it was called in by Cllr Slade’s Liberal Democrat colleagues. In July, Labour councillor Lewis Allison, BCP cabinet member for communities, said the review would take place but did not give a timeframe.

Lara ten Caten, Liberty lawyer, said: “If you find yourself on hard times, councils such as Poole will probably make your situation worse. Instead of treating you with dignity and offering support, Poole’s PSPO will be used to threaten you with a fine you can’t possibly pay. "Trying to punish people out of poverty is not only heartless, it’s a failure to engage with the complex social problems that lead to homelessness and rough sleeping. No-one should be subjected to the sharp end of these blunt powers and councils across the country must stop misusing these orders now.”