Labour and Lib Dem councillors have called in a Tory PSPO targeting the homeless. The order – which bans begging, rough sleeping in doorways before midnight- was passed by an unelected officer. A Lib Dem councillor said that he was ‘appalled’ that the decision had been made ‘behind closed doors’. Councillors also noted that the PSPO contradicted new Home Office guidance, which states that orders should not target rough sleeping.
Now it has transpired that the PSPO even went against the results of the public consultation, which the council had failed to publish. 59% had said that they disagreed with a ban on rough sleeping in doorways, and only 45% supported a ban on sitting/loitering to beg for money.
This is the reality of PSPOs – it is not local democracy, laws made by councillors and reflecting local people. Instead, they amount to arbitrary power for unelected council officials.
Which is why it is very positive that elected councillors have called the decision in, and are going to subject it to proper scrutiny and debate. It looks like the order will be reviewed or scrapped. The local Labour Party has set up a petition against the order. Poole is a model of council democracy working.