Manchester

Rochdale Council drops town centre swearing ban

Rochdale Image copyright Rochdale Council
Image caption The order would cover large parts of Rochdale town centre and the railway station

A plan to ban swearing in a town centre has been scrapped after police said it was "unenforceable".

Rochdale Council unveiled proposals for a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) earlier this year which included a ban on using foul and abusive language, begging and street drinking.

The swearing ban has now been removed from the order after a consultation.

When the ban was announced, a civil liberties group called it a "staggering misuse of power".

Greater Manchester Police advised the council to drop the swearing ban because of issues with enforcement, adding that current legislation already dealt with people using abusive language.

The council wants to introduce the PSPO because of an increase in begging on Rochdale's streets.

'Fine of £1,000'

Town centre businesses have also requested it because of anti-social behaviour issues.

The order features a number of restrictions, including:

  • Control of commercial or charity collection or soliciting for money in the street
  • Consumption of alcohol on the street
  • Driving/using a car in an anti-social manner
  • Obstructing the highway/or loitering
  • Anti-social parking
  • Use of skateboards, bicycles and scooters
  • Begging on the street

Breaches would incur a fine of £1,000, or £500 for drinking alcohol.

Proposals banning under-18s in the area between 23:00 and 06:00 and unauthorised distribution of printed material/leaflets have also been dropped.

Image caption Hair salon owner Greg Couzens says many businesses are struggling

Concerns were raised about the impact a ban on begging would have on vulnerable members of the society who cannot afford the fines.

But the council said there was evidence held by the police that suggested the "majority" of people involved in begging in the town centre were not homeless and are being offered council support.

Hair salon owner Greg Couzens said he had been called "heartless" for supporting the ban on begging.

He said his customers were intimidated by "a minority of people holding the town centre to ransom".

"Help needs to be given to the genuine but there are unfortunately so many people taking advantage of a situation," he said.

The PSPO will be discussed at a meeting on Tuesday evening. If approved, it would be introduced in the new year.

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