PSPOs criminalise punt touts and A-boards

Cambridge Council has issued 78 fines for punt touting, since the ban was brought through in 2016. There have also been seven convictions of the offence of verbal punt touting in the city centre. The fines for breaking the PSPO have now been used to pay for a ‘new dedicated punt tout enforcement officer’, with sole responsibility for catching people illegally offering people a ride in a punt. This is a classic case of officious laws being used to support an officious bureaucracy.

A Colchester trader is refusing to pay the fine for A-boards, issued under the council’s PSPO. The cafe owner – who has a business in an alley, where premises use A-boards to alert the public to their presence – says that the ban is ‘destroying people’. He and other independent businesses say that without the informal advertising of A-boards, they cannot draw customers and compete with the big chains. The council seems not to care about the life of its town centre, responding merely by defending the letter of its ridiculous law:

Red Lion Yard falls within the restricted area covered by the PSPO and, as such, the rule that restricts the use of A-boards and other removable or unsecured structures applies as it does elsewhere in the town centre.

The drama continues over Rhyl dog walking signs, after the council was forced to admit that its signs were incorrectly placed and confusing. This concerns some 600 signs put up in the area, after the passing of a PSPO restricting dog walking last September. One 71-year old local resident had his fine revoked, after it was found that the signage was inadequate. In other areas, signs say that dog walking is banned, when in fact it is not at all. Apparently local residents are contacting the council on social media, desperate to find out where they are allowed to walk their dogs. This confusion is typical of many dog walking restrictions, which have involved slapping down large numbers of signs and fines, without consideration of reasonableness or the need for people to have areas to walk their dogs.