Manchester rough sleepers could face £100 fines

Rough sleeper in Manchester city centre Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Manchester City Council has proposed plans to fine people who repeatedly display anti-social behaviour in public

Rough sleepers who refuse to move from doorways could be fined £100 in a proposed crackdown on anti-social behaviour in Manchester city centre.

The city's council said plans for a new Public Space Protection Order unveiled earlier would make the city safer.

However, opposition leader John Leech described the proposal as "social cleansing" and vowed to oppose it.

The council said it would only issue fines where there was a "wilful refusal to co-operate".

It said the order would not target rough sleepers or any "particular groups of people", but rather anyone who displayed anti-social behaviour including "aggressive begging" and drinking alcohol in public.

The proposed order is subject to a consultation period which ends on 7 April.

Deputy council leader Nigel Murphy said the Labour-run authority had "heeded the concerns" of people living and working in the city centre.

Image copyright Liberal Democrats
Image caption Liberal Democrat leader John Leech said he would oppose the order "until the end of time"

It had also noted last year's city centre survey, which highlighted anti-social behaviour as a major issue in drawing up proposals to prohibit:

  • Continuing to obstruct a building entrance, exit, stairwell or highway after being asked to move
  • Occupying a tent or other temporary structure likely to create a health and safety risk
  • Aggressive begging
  • Drinking alcohol in a non-licensed public space
  • Failing to pick up and properly dispose of litter
  • Discarding hypodermic needles or syringes in a public space
  • Urinating or defecating in public

Breaching the order would be a criminal offence enforceable through a fixed penalty notice of £100, with failure to pay potentially resulting in a £1,000 fine.

Mr Murphy said the council's "absolute priority" remained to support anyone in need and connect them with services to help improve their lives.

He said: "Nobody should have to put with behaviour which has a negative impact on them or their environment."

He added the order would not be a "magic wand" and would "not be used indiscriminately" but would give the council and police an extra tool at their disposal.

However, Liberal Democrat leader Mr Leech said he wanted to make it "absolutely crystal clear" that his party's councillors would oppose the proposal "until the end of time".

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, who has previously made tackling the "humanitarian crisis" of rough sleeping one of his top priorities, has been asked to comment.

In November the former Labour minister launched the Bed Every Night scheme, which aims to ensure shelter for an estimated 500 people in the region who regularly sleep rough.

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