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Community

Consultation for proposed green spaces PSPO

Consultation for proposed green spaces PSPO

Closing 11 June 2023

We are seeking your views on whether we should introduce a new Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) on council-owned land to protect our green spaces, countryside sites and riverside sites against:

  1. The use of barbeques (BBQs), campfires, bonfires, fire pits and other activities that involve the lighting of fire
  2. Unauthorised moorings along the river
  3. Overnight camping along the river

This survey is open until 11 June 2023.

As part of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, PSPOs allow local authorities to deal with nuisances or problems arising from anti-social behaviour in a defined public space. 

PSPOs can impose restrictions and requirements that are aimed at behaviours that are considered to be having or likely to have a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality. Such behaviour has to be persistent or continuing nature and be unreasonable.

PSPOs can impose blanket restrictions or requirements or can be targeted against certain behaviours by certain groups at certain times.  They can restrict access to public spaces (including certain types of highway) where that route is being used to commit anti-social behaviour.

 We, as a local council, are responsible for issuing a PSPO and the restrictions or requirements can be enforced by a police officer or a Council Officer. It may be that the Council will authorise other agencies for enforcement purposes.

The proposed PSPO would only apply to the following council-owned and managed open spaces, recreation grounds, green spaces, countryside and riverside sites which are publicly accessible:

The PSPO would last for 3 years and would be renewable upon review for another 3 years to cover the same areas and activities.

Background

Barbeques (BBQs), campfires, bonfires, fire pits and other activities that involve the lighting of fire

The increasing availability of portable fire pits and barbeques has led to an increased risk of wildfires, especially as we have seen less rainfall during the summer months. Wildfires can be incredibly damaging to wildlife, natural habitats, water and air quality and recreational enjoyment of the community.

Unauthorised mooring

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of boats moored without permission along the River Thames. This has resulted in increased littering and noise pollution at the above listed sites. We have been working with partners and District Enforcement to seek a long-term solution to unauthorised moorings in the borough. Unregistered boats moored without permission on Elmbridge land are still very challenging to move on.

Overnight camping along the river

Our open spaces adjacent to the river have been more popular than ever among picnickers, swimmers, paddleboarders and fishermen. Albany Reach, Thames Ditton has also been popular with fishermen who often camp for an extended period without the necessary toilet or other facilities. Their presence has resulted in reports of littering and human waste being deposited on the land.

A PSPO could be considered to alleviate residents and other users of the parks from a variety of anti-social behaviours as listed above.

See also: Elmbridge Cabinet agreed to protect our green spaces

Frequently asked questions

Q: What is a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO)?

A: PSPOs were introduced in October 2014 by the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. They are designed to allow a Council to deal with a particular nuisance or problem behaviour that is persistent or continuing and is unreasonable in a particular area (a public space) by imposing conditions on the use of that area which apply to everyone. For a PSPO to be introduced, the problem behaviour has to have a detrimental effect on the local community’s quality of life. The order will specify those behaviours, and the restrictions or requirements that are designed to ensure the law-abiding majority can use and enjoy the public space, safe from anti-social behaviour.

Q: Why are we proposing a PSPO?

A: Alongside our partners, we have identified a number of issues that are having a persistent negative impact on people who live near or visit our local green spaces and riverside sites. These issues were raised via complaints coming from the public, residents, visitors and other interested parties who are concerned about the impact of Anti-Social Behaviour on the local community.

Q: How have you made the decision on the proposed restrictions and requirements to address the specific 3 behaviours for the PSPO?

A: When identifying the proposed restrictions and requirements to include in the Order, we have looked at the complaints and evidence we received about the anti-social behaviours and the impact on the community. However, as part of this consultation, please let us know if we there are aspects we have not covered regarding this type of Anti-Social Behaviour.

Q: Why did you include the lighting of fire in the proposed PSPO?

A: Over the last summers, and with the widespread availability of portable fire pits and barbeques, we have seen an increased number of barbeques being used in our open spaces. The has led to damage to the environment and wildlife and increased risks of wildfire causing danger to visitors in green spaces.

Q: Why is unauthorised mooring included in the proposed PSPO?

A: In recent years, and with greater enforcement imposed further along the River Thames in Kingston and Richmond leading to the displacement of boats into Surrey boroughs, there has been an increase in the number of boats moored without permission in Elmbridge. We have been working with partners and the Environment Agency to seek a long-term solution to unauthorised moorings in the borough. Unregistered boats moored without permission on Elmbridge land are still very challenging to move on in areas highlighted on the map shown on the consultation web page.

Q: Why is the unauthorised mooring only proposed on a limited number of sites and not the whole River Thames in Elmbridge?

A: The proposed PSPO would only apply to council-owned land, not to Environment Agency or privately owned land.

Q: Why is Overnight camping along the river included in the proposed PSPO?

A: Our open spaces adjacent to the river have been more popular than ever among picnickers, swimmers, paddleboarders and fishermen. Albany Reach, Thames Ditton has also been popular with fishermen who often camp for an extended period without the necessary toilet or other facilities, and it is this presence that is cited as the source of the nuisance behaviour. Affected areas are shown on the maps listed above.

Q: Why doesn’t this proposed Green Spaces PSPO cover the use of green spaces by commercial dog owners or the number of dogs being walked by one person at any time?

A: There is no national licensing scheme for dog walking. At this time, there is insufficient local evidence to include anti-social behaviour relating to dog owners and their dogs in the current proposed PSPO. However, should sufficient evidence be provided, we will consult the community on extending this PSPO to cover dog related anti-social behaviour. If you have a dog related issue to report on Elmbridge open spaces, please visit our website.

Q: Is there not a danger that you could be accused of picking on some of the most vulnerable people in our society by introducing a Green Spaces PSPO?

A: As part of the Public Sector Equality Duty, we have carried out an Equality Impact Assessment in relation to the proposed PSPO. The PSPO is not intended to target any particular person – it will apply to all persons whose behaviour is considered unacceptable and is causing concern or distress to others. Significant support is already available to help vulnerable individuals and this will continue irrespective of the implementation of a PSPO.

Q: How is the PSPO going to be enforced?

A: Enforcement of the PSPO will be undertaken by the authorised officers of Elmbridge Borough Council with assistance from partners and the police where required.

Q: What happens if I breach the PSPO?

A: Where a person breaches the PSPO, an authorised officer will have a number of options open to them and will exercise discretion in how they handle any situation. Depending on the nature of the breach, the authorised officer:

  • can issue a verbal warning and require an immediate cessation of the behaviour causing the breach of the PSPO or
  • can issue a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) either at the time or at a later date or to report that individual for consideration of legal proceedings.

Where an individual refuses to cease the behaviour causing the breach and/or fails to pay a FPN issued by an authorised officer for a PSPO breach within the specified timescale, we will review the evidence obtained and where appropriate commence criminal proceedings for the original breach.

Q: When is the consultation taking place and how do I get involved?

A: The consultation starts on Tuesday 21 February, and will close on Sunday 20 March. The survey is available on our consultation webpage and you can respond by completing the online survey. Paper copies are available upon request at greenspaces@elmbridge.gov.uk.

Q: What will happen to the information I provide as part of the consultation?

A: The data collected will be analysed to help determine whether the correct restrictions and requirements are being included in the PSPO and whether to proceed with the proposed PSPO in respect of all the behaviours that the Council are seeking to restrict. The results will be made available for Cabinet reports and on the Elmbridge Borough Council website. No personal data will be collected. Refer to our privacy notice for further information.

Q: How will the decision be made whether or not to implement the PSPO?

A: The survey responses will be analysed with the results and any proposed amendments reported back to local councillors at the July 2023 Cabinet. A decision on whether or not to issue the PSPO as proposed and/or whether all the restrictions and requirements will be included.

Q: Can a person appeal against the PSPO?

A: An interested person can appeal to the High Court against a PSPO within 6 weeks of it being made. An “interested person” is someone who lives in, regularly works in, or visits the restricted area.

If there any questions we have not covered above, please email greenspaces@elmbridge.gov.uk.

 

 

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