Homelessness charity's concerns about new orders in Chesterfield town centre

Chesterfield Borough Council's leader has responded to concerns by a homelessness charity about the new Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) in the town centre.

Tuesday, 2nd January 2018, 3:57 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd January 2018, 4:00 pm
Homelessness is an issue in Chesterfield.

Among other things, the PSPOs prohibit people from positioning or occupying any tent or temporary structure without the landowner's permission.

Anyone who breaches the PSPOs could be issued with a fixed penalty notice of up to £100.

If unpaid, further action - which may include prosecution - will be taken.

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Sian Jones, manager of Pathways.

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Sian Jones, manager of Saltergate-based Pathways - which is a service for the homeless - told the Derbyshire Times: "We are concerned about the introduction of the PSPOs.

"It is a very difficult topic as, while we understand some people have felt intimidated by people rough sleeping in the town centre and the impact this has, the bigger question always remains that if they are being moved on from these areas, where do they go?

"If you have no settled place to call home then the place that you sleep becomes to feel like a safer space than most.

Councillor Tricia Gilby, leader of Chesterfield Borough Council.

"Concerns are that most of the support services are based within the town centre and if people are pushed out then it may result in them losing or not accessing the support that would help them make changes.

"We feel that is essential to work towards a solution to the rising homeless population rather than to just move and disperse the problem elsewhere.

"We are involved in the multi-agency town summit that is looking at what can be done to tackle this problem."

Councillor Tricia Gilby, the borough council's leader, said the PSPOs were introduced to deal with residents' concerns about the amount of anti-social behaviour in the town centre - and insisted they will offer treatment and support.

Sian Jones, manager of Pathways.

She added: "In a consultation held in the summer, more than 300 people responded and overwhelmingly supported the proposals. In addition, we received a letter signed by 29 local business owners concerned about the effect of anti-social behaviour on their businesses.

"Pathways has been one of the agencies involved in the multi-agency summit including the police, council, NHS and voluntary and charity groups which has been set up to tackle the problem.

"Enforcement is only one of the priorities of the group.

"The others are to offer treatment and support to enable the people concerned to receive mental health, alcohol or drug treatment as well as finding long term housing solutions as well as asking the Government to reconsider some of the changes to welfare reforms that are contributing to the issue.

Councillor Tricia Gilby, leader of Chesterfield Borough Council.

"There are many reasons why people may be on the streets - not all of them will be without an address and many will have complex needs.

"Our homelessness prevention team works closely with Pathways to ensure people receive the support they need."