Cheshire East

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Birmingham rules out Public Spaces Protection Order after consultation

Birmingham City Council has decided against introducing a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) for parts of the city centre.

The decision follows a consultation in which 60% of the nearly 650 responses were against the idea.

Cllr James McKay, Cabinet Member for Inclusion and Community Safety at Birmingham, said: “We began the consultation over a possible PSPO earlier this year in response to an increasing number of complaints raised by residents, visitors and businesses regarding buskers, street speakers and street entertainers, and in particular regarding the use of amplification in street speaking and entertainment.

“The PSPO is a new power made available to councils to tackle local issues of concern, and differs to by-laws in the sense that they can be agreed locally, rather than having a lengthy wait for central government approval. Given the strength of feeling over amplified noise, we decided to see what people thought.

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“A wide range of strong opinions both for and against the idea were heard during the public consultation.”

Cllr McKay said that taking all of the viewpoints into account, the council no longer planned to proceed with the PSPO, and would seek to address the issues of concern in other ways.

“Our existing Code of Conduct for buskers will be reviewed to ensure it is as robust as possible, and we will look at what we can do to deal with any individuals who cause a specific nuisance through other tools such as Community Protection Notices,” he said.

“It is clear from the consultation that this more targeted approach will inspire far more confidence than a universal or blanket approach could have done.”

Birmingham’s decision was welcomed by human rights charity Liberty, which had argued the PSPO was “vaguely-worded” and “risked breaching the rights of peaceful protestors and demonstrators under Articles 10 and 11 of the Human Rights Act (the right to freedom of expression and assembly)”.

Rosie Brighouse, Legal Officer for Liberty, said: “We are delighted the council has listened to the concerns of its people and campaigners and abandoned these misguided plans.

“We are witnessing a rash of unfair, overbroad PSPO proposals across the country, which will penalise poverty or criminalise people for exercising their democratic rights. We strongly urge other authorities to follow Birmingham City Council’s example in steering clear of these unlawful, excessive and counterproductive measures.”

In June 2015 Oxford City Council deferred a decision on whether to introduce a PSPO in the city centre, after receiving a legal opinion from Liberty that claimed its plans were unlawful.

 

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