People drinking on the street in Brick Lane could face on-the-spot fines of up to £100 if a council proposal to impose new regulations on the area is agreed.
The plan for a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), which gives police and council officers special powers to issue fines for anti-social behaviour such as public urination and drunken behaviour, was sparked following complaints from residents according to Tower Hamlets council.
According to the council, the PSPO would give their staff, the police and other agencies more powers to deal with nuisance, harassment and other anti-social behaviours.
Those who breach such an order face on-the-spot fines of up to £100, or a criminal record and a £1000 penalty if they can’t pay.
The order would apply to Brick Lane between Whitechapel Road and Bethnal Green Road, extending around 100m into the adjacent side streets. It would also include adjacent areas where there are what the council has dubbed anti-social behaviour ‘hotspots’.
Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “Brick Lane is an amazing attraction with a vibrant nightlife and the council is committed to making sure that continues. A new PSPO would give the council additional powers to crack down on anti-social behaviour.”
The Brick Lane consultation follows the implementation of a PSPO in Whitechapel, the first of its kind in the borough. After a similar consultation with residents, the order that applies to the pedestrian footpath between Old Montague Street and Whitechapel Road targets activities such as loitering, drug dealing and fly tipping in the restricted area.
Councillor Shiria Khatun, deputy Mayor added: “It is our duty to make sure people in our communities live in areas that are safe and free from anti-social behaviour. Although it’s only a small minority causing the problems that are currently blighting Brick Lane, it’s essential that local people take part in the consultation so we can act on their concerns.”
PSPOs have been heavily criticised by some campaigners, who fear the orders are being used to criminalise rough sleepers.
Rosie Brighouse, a legal officer at human rights organisation Liberty, told Vice in February: “From their inception, Liberty warned that PSPOs were incredibly blunt instruments ripe for misuse and abuse – and that’s exactly what they’ve proven to be. We’re increasingly seeing councils using overly broad orders to penalise the very people they should be helping, and we’re challenging them wherever we can. The government needs to urgently rethink these dangerous powers – handing hefty fines to homeless people, for example, is obviously absurd, counterproductive and downright cruel.”
The consultation will run until December 7. To take part in the Brick Lane PSPO consultation complete the online survey at: www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/bricklanepspo