You might have read on social media about a Manchester City Council plan to target homeless people and fine them for rough sleeping. This is not the case. The Council is currently consulting on a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), which would target specific anti-social behaviours that residents, workers and visitors have complained about. The behaviours are:
- Failing to dispose of commercial waste responsibly
- Failing to pick up and properly dispose of litter when formally asked to do so by an authorised officers
- Discarding hypodermic needles or syringes in a public space
- Urinating or defecating in public spaces
- Begging in a manner that causes nuisance, annoyance, fear or distress
- Occupying a tent or other temporary structure in a way that is likely to create a health and safety risk for other people or attract vermin
- Obstructing a building entrance/exit, stairwell or highway after being formally asked to move by an authorised officer
- Drinking alcohol in a non-licensed public space Both GMP and trained Council staff could enforce the order, with enforcement including fixed penalty notices of £100, which courts could increase.
Those obstructing doorways, most of which are fire exits, or dropping litter would be given the opportunity to act differently before enforcement. This request would be given in writing and followed by a reasonable time to adhere.
Deansgate Labour Councillors are among those wanting stronger action on behaviour that harms our residents’ quality of life. Though, we do have legitimate concerns about the PSPO proposals and may seek to change them after the consultation. It is important to ensure it would not be misused. We want safeguards around training and supervision of staff, to make sure powers are used appropriately and compassionately.
We know the majority of rough sleepers do not engage in the behaviour listed above. We do not and never will support fining people for rough sleeping. That is not Manchester Labour policy. These proposals do not change that.
We’re committed to ending homelessness. The Council, in partnership, has a large and growing offer to support people who are homeless. We’ve increased our Rough Sleeper Team who undertake regular outreach, we’ve increased spending on services and accommodation, and we’ve played a large role in supporting Greater Manchester’s Bed Every Night scheme, which has been running all winter, and is likely to be extended.
City Centre residents’ voices are vital in the consultation to inform whether or not to proceed with the PSPO overall and what the final order might say. Please let us know everything you think by contacting us or in the consultation.
What do you think? Tell Manchester City Council by 8 April by visiting bit.ly/McrPSPO