This is the final week in a consultation by Oxford City Council, proposing a ban on various ‘anti-social activities’ in the city centre.
The council is using new ‘public spaces protection order’ powers, or PSPOs, which allow it to ban any activity it judges to have a ‘detrimental effect’ on the local ‘quality of life’. These banned activities include: sleeping in toilets, rough sleeping, public drinking, dogs being off leads in the city centre, pigeon feeding, ‘non-compliant’ busking, and ‘persistent begging’.
When the Manifesto Club debated the issue on BBC Radio Oxford on Sunday, Oxford councillor Dee Sinclair said the council was bringing in the measures to try to achieve a ‘world-class city’. This phrase suggests a city for the brochure – cleaned of any disorderly, messy elements.
Sinclair said the council wanted to stop things in public spaces which make some people ‘feel uncomfortable’. She used the word ‘uncomfortable’ several times in her description of the application of these powers. The council, she said, wanted to encourage people to feel ‘safe’. Her example of something that made people feel uncomfortable was somebody asking them for money.
No doubt, buskers, people sleeping in toilets and pigeons may make some people feel uncomfortable. But that doesn’t mean these things should be subject to the criminal law.