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No begging, rough sleeping and alcohol consumption comes to Banbury town centre.

An order to stop begging, rough sleeping and alcohol consumption on the streets of Banbury town centre has been approved after a public consultation showed overwhelming support for the proposals.

Yesterday (Monday) members of Cherwell District Council’s executive agreed to introduce a Public Space Protection Order to combat complaints from shoppers and traders about incidents of antisocial behaviour in the town.

The implementation follows a five-week public consultation which showed 90 per cent of respondents supported proposals to tackle antisocial drinking while 84 per cent and 79 per cent endorsed proposals to stop begging and rough sleeping respectively.

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Cllr Tony Ilott, Cherwell’s lead member for public protection, said:

“The purpose of this order isn’t to punish people; it’s about making Banbury town centre a safe, welcome and pleasant area for everyone. People of all ages should be able to visit any part of the town at any time of the day without feeling intimidated, pressurised into giving money or at risk from the behaviour of others.

“As it stands, there is a small population of people contravening these values. We have people travelling into the area pretending to be homeless to prey on the generosity of kind hearted shoppers, and hotspots of antisocial behaviour fuelled by alcohol and drugs which put the public at risk through discarded needles, broken glass and drunken antics. None of this is acceptable and we don’t see why the majority of residents should suffer at the hands of the minority.

“It’s important to stress this order doesn’t come at the expense of our other services; it’s still of paramount importance to support and help those in genuine need and we will continue to work with our partners to do just that. But those who refuse will no longer be allowed to act in a manner that has a negative impact on the town or those who are trying to live, work or shop there.”

The order will apply to agreed boundaries including all of the town centre, stretching from Cherwell Drive and Castle Quay canalside to the north, to Gatteridge Street and Britannia Road to the south. The boundary will reach as far as Bridge Street Park to the east and People’s Park to the west.

Anyone who breaches the order will be asked to stop what they are doing or leave the area. Those who refuse could receive a fixed penalty notice of £100, a fine of up to £1,000 on conviction or £500 upon conviction for consuming alcohol in breach of the order. The order, which lasts up to three years, can be enforced by a police officer, a police community support officer (PCSO), designated council officers and employees of other delegated organisations.

Although Cherwell actively engages with all reported cases of rough sleeping, officers cannot force people to accept the support available, which includes access to 13 supported beds within Cherwell. People can also receive referrals to purpose-built accommodation based in Oxford which provides 24 hour staffing and specialist medical assessments for those with multiple and complex support needs, as part of the county’s homeless supported accommodation pathway.

Individuals can also receive advice about the housing options available to them including help to join the housing register, benefits and the Rent Deposit Bond Scheme to support access into private rented accommodation. Cherwell also supports a range of partnerships in Banbury including the Beacon Centre, BYHP and Connection where people can receive free advice and support.

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