Friday, 5 August 2022

Brent Council consultation on wide-ranging prohibitions in public spaces and Quintain estate


 A Brent Council consultation is is progress on the merger of Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) across the borough which will include the private, Quintain owned, Wembley Park, the continuation of some prohibitions and the introduction of some new ones. 

Some prohibitions are straight-forward but others raise questions. The ban on leafleting or leafleting only with permission or licence, came up as an issue 10 years ago when concerns were raised about the freedom of political groups and campaigns to leaflet the public. There was a full discussion at Brent Council Scrutiny Committee. Cultural groups and charities were concerned about the controls limiting their ability to inform the public of events and small businesses in marketing start-up ventures.

Leafleting is a key civic freedom, with a long tradition in this country, and should not be restricted without good reason. Litter can be dealt with through the proper provision of litter bins and other common-sense measures, rather than restrictions on people’s rights to use public space. (Manifesto Club)

The ban on model aircraft and drones in parks calls into question a long tradition of model aircraft flying from Gotfordes Hill in Fryent Country Park.

The Council claims that their list of issues was informed by 550 members of the public and 40 plus 'professionals' but do not elaborate how they were chosen and their demography. 

Brent Council does supply a Q&A which I publish below but this does not explain some proposals such as banning ebikes in parks that already allow push bikes and have a speed limit.  The proposals to end some prohibitions in Wembley Park seem bizarre, especially those that harm the public such as idling car engines or present a danger such as sky lanterns. 

The elephant in the room is of course, eforcement. We know that there is a lack of enforcement of current prohibitions, neither the council or police have the resources to enforce such a large number of prohibitions so prosecutions or Fixed Penalty Notices when applied will be fairly random.

Responses to Council consultations are often very low, and may not exceed the 550 who infomed the council of issues, so I hope readers will take the trouble to respond. 

LINK TO CONSULTATION

Brent Council commentary:

 

Why are we consulting?

In accordance with the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, Brent Council is conducting a consultation over the proposed merger of three existing Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO). The current PSPOs include:-

• A Borough-wide PSPO to tackle street drinking
• Brent parks, open spaces, cemeteries and graveyards
• Wembley Park

As part of the merge, the PSPOs are being reviewed to agree whether additional prohibitions are required and whether some prohibitions may be removed altogether.

The new unified PSPO if granted, will continue to be split into the three sections as above with varying prohibitions as determined by the evidence gathering and this consultation.

The PSPO would apply to any area within the London Borough of Brent, including, Cemeteries, Graveyards, Parks and Open Spaces maintainable at the public expense or managed by the Local Authority and which is adjacent to the carriageway or footway of a highway, including adjoining footpaths. The proposed duration is 3 years.

This order has been informed by evidence from over 550 members of the public and in excess of 40 professionals, which demonstrates the scale of the issues for the local community.

The main issues in the responses to date are:-

 


1. Across the entire Borough in our streets

• Street drinking (drinking alcohol)
• Psychoactive substances (formerly known as legal highs or balloons)
• Cannabis smoking
• Littering (urination or defecating)
• Littering (cigarettes)
• Littering (spitting)
• Use of megaphone or microphone with speaker
• Illegal trading (food or other items on the street)
• Leaflet distribution including the giveaway of free samples
• Dog fouling
• Aggressive begging
• Busking without prior consent
• Illegal trading (food or other items on the street)
• Charity collecting
• Leaflet distribution

2. Issues specific to Brent Parks, Open Spaces, Cemeteries and Graveyards (POsC&G)

• Park drinking (drinking alcohol)
• Psychoactive substances (formerly known as legal highs or balloons)
• Cannabis smoking
• Littering (urination or defecating)
• Littering (cigarettes)
• Littering (spitting)
• Littering (bottles, cans, packets, food)
• Use of motor vehicles including e-scooters and electric bikes
• Dog fouling
• Loss of control of dogs (dog not within eyesight of owner and/or do not respond to recall)
• Dogs that are in a banned area
• More than four dogs being walked at the same time
• Flying drones and other model aircrafts
• The lighting of fires or use of BBQs
• The use of fireworks in a banned area
• Defacing or damaging fixtures, furniture or other items
• Wild animal feeding inclusive of birds
• Unauthorised sporting activities

3. Wembley Park (particularly issues surrounding Wembley National Stadium events)

• Street drinking (drinking alcohol)
• Psychoactive substances (formerly known as legal highs or balloons)
• Cannabis smoking
• Littering (urination or defecating)
• Littering (cigarettes)
• Littering (spitting)
• Use of motor vehicles including e-scooters and electric bikes
• Dog fouling
• Use of megaphone or microphone with speaker
• Illegal trading of merchandise
• Illegal trading of tickets (ticket touting)
• Illegal trading (food or other items on the street)
• Ambush Marketing (where an event is used to promote another business)
• Leaflet distribution including the giveaway of free samples
• Fireworks, including flares and smoke emitters
• Busking and use of loudspeakers causing a nuisance without authorisation from the landowner and/or the London Borough of Brent.
• Charity Collections
• Obstruction of the public highway which prevents a free flow of a person’s movement
• Climbing of street furniture

The PSPO, if granted would include all of the prohibitions mentioned in 3. above in relation to open spaces owned by Quintain, particularly the area surrounding Wembley National Stadium.

Proposal to remove the following current prohibitions:-

• To play games or competitions which may cause an obstruction or nuisance to members of the public (Wembley Park PSPO)
• To fly drone(s) without written consent from the land owner and/or the London Borough of Brent (Wembley Park PSPO)
• Launching sky lanterns that rely on an open flame to heat the air inside the lantern (POsC&G PSPO)
• To leave the engine of a vehicle idling without reasonable excuse, which is continued when asked to be stopped by an authorised Council officer (Wembley Park PSPO)
 

Please note: The evidence gathering was based on the wards prior to the name changes made in June 2022. The proposed prohibitions will be based on the new wards.

The PSPO will give the Police and Council officers greater flexibility in dealing with this problem borough wide.
These issues affect your community, and we want to involve you in tackling them. With this consultation, we hope to:-

• Make you aware of the reasons for making an application for a PSPO
• Allow you to make any comments on the proposal
• Support local residents in improving their quality of life
• Prevent further anti-social behaviour, crime and disorder

The consultation period will run for just under six weeks from 11 July 2022 until 18 August 2022 and if successful will be implemented by January 2023.


Brent Council's Q&A

PSPO - Frequently Asked Questions 

Why do we need a PSPO for drinking? 

Excessive drinking can lead to behaviours that make people feel intimidated and unsafe; rowdy behaviour, noise nuisance, public urination and littering. When these behaviours arise, authorities need to be able to respond swiftly and prevent them escalating. Being able to prevent continued drinking is an effective, low level intervention. 

What about drinking alcohol outside pubs and bars? 

The order is not designed to interfere with the conditions that apply to licensed premises. However, drinking beyond the legal boundary of the premises would mean that the order applies and an authorised officer would have the power to issue a requirement under the order. 

Why do we need a PSPO for charity collecting? 

Before a charity collector can collect in any London Borough, they must first seek approval from the Police and the local authority. This gives Brent the ability to check that a charity is collecting for genuine purposes and not obstructing the public highway when they interact with members of the public. 

Why do we need a PSPO for psychoactive substances (nitrous oxide formerly known as legal highs or balloons)? 

These drugs are designed to replicate the effects of other illegal drugs, and have the capacity to stimulate or depress the central nervous system. This is due to one or more chemical substances used in the manufacturing process, and the effects of taking them can cause erratic behaviour which can be anti-social. 

The sale of nitrous oxide for its psychoactive effects was made illegal after the Psychoactive Substances Act in 2016, but it is not currently a crime to be caught in possession of the drug. The government has concerns that this could be a significant factor resulting in the increasing consumption of the substance. 

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) had previously provided advice on nitrous oxide in 2015 and concluded that it did not seem to warrant control under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. However, given the increase in use among young people and concern over potential long-term effects, the Home Secretary has requested an updated assessment. Being able to prevent the use of nitrous oxide is an effective, low level intervention.  

Why do we need a PSPO for smoking cannabis? 

It is illegal to smoke cannabis anywhere in the United Kingdom. The smell of cannabis and the anti-social behaviour related to smoking can be seen as a nuisance to members of the public. 

Why do we need a PSPO for leaflet distribution? 

In order to distribute free matter including sampling, prior consent must be sought. The consent includes a fee to clean up matter that is littered in the streets. The cost of cleaning up this type of matter where consent has not been given, can be costly to local authorities.  

Why do we need a PSPO for aggressive begging? 

Members of the public can find aggressive begging intimidating. Where persons are vulnerable and/or homeless, the intention is not to fine them, but to refer them to appropriate services. However, where persons refuse assistance, further action can then be undertaken. 

Why do we need a PSPO for busking? 

Busking is not a licensable activity. However, a minority of members of the public who carry out busking do not take into consideration that they are obstructing the public highway or causing a noise nuisance to local residents and businesses. 

Why do we need a PSPO for the illegal trading of goods (including food items)? 

In order to trade on the public highway or in parks and open spaces, you must first apply for consent. Unfortunately, there a minority that choose to set up the sale of items, which are often of substandard quality, not fit for purpose and there is no opportunity for recourse. In relation to the sale of food items, there may be no food hygiene preparation in place or labelling with a risk of allergies being present. 

Why do we need a PSPO for the use of megaphones or microphones with speakers? 

Members of the public are free to speak in public (with a few exceptions). However, the use of a megaphone or microphone with a speaker can cause a nuisance to members of the public using the same space or neighbouring residents and businesses particularly when this can go on for prolonged periods of time. 

Why do we need a PSPO for littering (urination & defecating)? 

Persons who are relieving themselves at will in public do so in close proximity to restaurants, fast food outlets and coffee shops. It also takes place on the public highway at entrances to resident’s homes and in parks and open spaces where members of the public often sit. The smell of such littering can be overwhelming, not to mention the alarm it can cause to those passers-by that witness such activity. The removal of urinating and defection is costly to the Council, businesses and residents. 

This has historically been seen as something that only the homeless do but this is not the case.  

Why do we need a PSPO for littering (spitting)? 

Members of the public report spitting as anti-social. It also has the ability to spread disease. 

In Brent the level of paan-spitting in some locations is high and causes staining to the public highway. The effects of this can cause permanent damage to the public highway’s pavements and is costly when attempting to remove the stains. 

Why do we need a PSPO for littering (cigarettes, bottles, cans, packets, food)? 

Littering of the public highway, parks and open spaces is unsightly and attracts vermin. Members of the public should take any litter home or to a nearest receptacle where a bin is not available in the immediate area. The culture surrounding littering needs to change so that all members of the public take responsibility for their own waste in order to keep the streets clean and our parks and open spaces maintained. 

Why do we need a PSPO for bird feeding? 

Bird feeding is unsightly and attracts vermin. It also prevents other members of the public from using parks and open spaces for their intended use. 

Why do we need a PSPO for unauthorised sporting activities? 

Use of areas specified for sports often require booking. When a member of the public turns up for their booking and someone is already using the space and refuses to leave, this can be frustrating. 

In other areas in parks and open spaces, members of the public set up sporting activities without taking into consideration others that may be using the same space. 

Why do we need a PSPO in relation to dogs? 

Those who use the Council’s parks and open spaces to exercise their dogs, need to do this in a responsible manner. As a dog owner, you may understand your dog’s behaviour but not all members of the public feel the same about this. It is therefore a matter of balancing the need of exercising dogs without having a negative impact on others using the same space.  

It is therefore important to keep dogs under control, on leads where required and prevented from entering areas where they are banned. You also told us that dog fouling is a big issue across Brent where owners are not picking up after their dogs. 

Why do we need a PSPO for the lighting of fires or use of BBQs ? 

The cost of replacing furniture is costly; a new picnic table is over £650 to replace. The use of BBQs in our parks and open spaces also pose the risk of causing a fire.
 
 

Why do we need a PSPO for the use of fireworks in a banned area?

 

Anti-social behaviour involving fireworks ranges from them being set off late at night, in areas where they are banned, to deliberate physical harm or threat of harm caused to people, animals and property. Not only is there a danger from fireworks exploding, they can also pose a serious fire risk as well.

 

Firework displays when carried out correctly can be enjoyable. Unfortunately a small minority of people are using them irresponsibly.

 

It is an offence to throw or set off any firework (including sparklers and category 1 fireworks) in or into any highway, street, thoroughfare or public space.

How would the PSPO be enforced?

·       Breach of a PSPO occurs when a person does not comply with the requirement made under the order

·       Breach of a PSPO is a criminal offence subject to, up to a level three fine on prosecution (up to £1,000)

·       A Fixed Penalty Notice can be issued for £100 for failing to comply with an officer's request. This fine is payable within 14 days.

·       If paid within ten days, a discounted charge of £75 is applied

·       Payment of the FPN discharges liability to conviction for the offence

·       The police will work in partnership with the council to ensure the effective enforcement of these new regulations.

A by-product of the consultation is a reminder of how much former public space around Wembley Stadium  is now private space owned and policed by Quaintain. I have been moved on from Olympic Way and Wembley Boulevard by private security when leafleting about climate change. See LINK.

The following are the proposed locations owned by Quintain to be included in the Public Space Protection Order:- 

·       Pocket Square  

·       Elvin Gardens lawns (not including the dog run) 

·       Samovar Space 

·       Market Square 

·       Arena Square 

·       Event Pad 

·       White Horse Square 

·       The Meadows 

·       The Lawns  

·       Union Park 

·       Southern Terrace 

·       Olympic Way (pedestrian area) 

·       Wembley Boulevard (pedestrian area)

 



 

16 comments:

Jaine Lunn said...

They can consult and make changes to the existing PSPO's all they like but unless they take a radical change to enforcement as our neighbours have done, by which I mean Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham who now have a huge visible presence of Civic Enforcement Officers empowered to deal with all sorts of anti-social behaviour and littering nothing will change in BRENT. As for Wembley NoPark/Quintain Location, they now employ their own Police Force. Whilst the rest of Brent the Met Police and Safer Neighbourhood Teams are ridiculously understaffed and do not have the resources to be effective in dealing with any of these issues.

Anonymous said...

Zero Tolerance means nothing unless enforced.

Anonymous said...

Civil liberties in Brent mean nothing.

Anonymous said...

Becoming like a police state

Anonymous said...

We need to see cameras everwhere and civic enforcement officers. Peomle need to be watched and fined otherwise it will continue the way it is.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6 August 2022 at 08:38 You make it sound like Germany in the 1930's

Anonymous said...

Care to elaborate on which of the above listed actions DON’T cause annoyance, nuisance, mess, damage, harassment or alarm to residents?

Anonymous said...

So you’re perfectly happy to have teenagers sucking balloons, smoking cannabis and drinking in your local park? Busking or preaching through a megafone outside your window? People spitting at your feet as you walk?

Anonymous said...

Another one who would rather see dirty, unclean pavements, park furniture set on fire, drunks littering benches and walls in the town and be woken by fireworks at 3am, all for the protection of your rights

Anonymous said...

Well said Janie

Anonymous said...

OK, lock everyone up

Anonymous said...

we need proper enforcement!!!

in One Tree Hill park we noticed they had removed nearly all the benches especially as you walk up the hill and at the top - I asked why and was told it was to deter the drinkers gathering - I said but that clearly has not worked as the park is full of drinkers and all their unsightly litter - all it has done is deter other people who might need to sit down or who might simply want to sit and enjoy the park from visiting it - all the while they are promoting it as the park of choice for all the new flats in Alperton!

Anonymous said...

I welcome the proposals made and would add to them the dumping of furniture and clothes on pavements and other people's walls. Suddenly all my local streets look untidy and dirty with the amount of things dumped on streets in the hope that someone will take them. Naturally this needs to all be enforced and have clear signs of what is banned on our streets and some education is needed in our schools and communication sent across high street shops, cafes, restaurants and communities.

Anonymous said...

Notice they never propose bylaws as these offer protection to people who will be abused by these fascist pspos

Anonymous said...

Enforcement of this is critical!

Anonymous said...

What civil liberties are you talking about? Anti-social behaviour is unacceptable and people need to be able to live peacefully in a clean quiet environment.