Ten commandments plan to stop Doncaster town centre chugging, begging and breaking into parking meters

A man arrested in Doncaster town centre
A man arrested in Doncaster town centre

Officials have drawn up proposals for 10 Doncaster commandments in a bid to tackle antisocial behaviour in the borough's town centre.

Bosses at Doncaster Council have announced the start of four weeks' consultation which could lead to a Public Spaces Protection Order, banning actions ranging from asking for money to loitering around hole-in-the-wall cash machines.

They would also see an end to so-called 'chugging' where people are approached in the street to sign up for charities or credit cards, unless it is approved in advance by the council.

But councillors emphasize that the tough new rules will be running alongside efforts to put homeless people who beg on the streets back on track so that they no longer to beg or sleep on the streets.

The list of banned actions which have been proposed are :

* Requesting money in the street, including using containers;

* Loitering around cash machines;

* Returning to the town centre within 24 hours of being ask to leave by officials for antisocial behaviour;

* Congregating in groups of three or more in a way likely to cause a nuisance;

* Drinking alcohol on the street;

* Taking or possessing intoxicating drugs;

* Urinating or defecating in the streets;

* Rough sleeping in a public place;

* So-called 'chugging' by charities and other organisations;

* Interfering with parking equipment.

The council says the proposals are going to be run hand-in-hand with ongoing efforts to help people who are on the streets with what they describe as 'complex lives' including homlessness, drug or alcohol problems, or mental health issues.

They believe it will help push them towards receiving help if they have not accepted it before.

The council's cabinet member for public health, Coun Nigel Ball, said: "First and foremost this is about supporting people with complex lives and moving them forward. Some have had problems for years, It is about making sure that they can move on with their lives."

He said he thought austerity had contributed to the problem, which was not unique to Doncaster, but was an issue in all major towns.

There are no plans for any similar schemes in any other areas of Doncaster at present.

But Coun Chris McGuinness, cabinet member for communities, said, that did not mean similar measures may be taken in other towns in the borough in the future.

He said: "You see young women with pushchairs in car parks trying to pay for their parking, who sometimes look like they are being intimidated by people trying to get money. Some are quite aggressive about how they get money. We want to stop that."

Cabinet member for adult social care, Coun Rachel Blake said giving money to people begging on the streets was not always the best way to help them, and the council was trying to direct people into the right sort of care that they needed.

She added: "We want to get as wide a response as possible to the consultation which is starting."

Organisations including the council, police and NHS and St Leger Homes have been working together since last year to try to link services for those who have been causing nuisance in the town centre, through what they have called the Complex Lives Alliance.

Police have been referring people to appropriate services.

The new powers under the PSPO will allow them to move people on or eventually arrest them. But officials at the council hope the powers will mean they can now say to people that they cannot make a living from begging and encourage them to engage with services instead.

Pat Hagan, Doncaster Council's head of service (communities) said action had been included to deal with problems with damage to parking meters which had become an issue.

He said: "There is a massive problem with parking meters being damaged and money being taken, which then causes a problem for with people trying to find where they can or can't park. There is also a problem with people standing around cashpoint machines, which we are told can be intimidating.

"There has also been an issue of 'aggressive chugging', where people rock up and assertively address people in the streets. We're not against charities, but we want to be part of the process and for it to be authorised by the council if it is going to happen."

Concerns over antisocial behaviour in the town centre has been raised by businesses and other organisations, including market traders. Police have already made arrests for begging, and taken out court orders which prevent some individuals from entering the town centre. The new local laws are expected to make it easier for them to act.

The planned order would cover areas of the town centre including Doncaster Station, Doncaster Market, the entrance to Elmfield Park. It would include the Doncaster College site and the land across the river between St George's Bridge and North Bridge. It includes the town site of Christ Church Road, Thorne Road up to its junction with Rectory Gardens, and the roads to the west of Town Field. Its southern tip would be College Road.

Anyone wanting to give their views as part of the public consultation can log onto www.doncaster.gov.uk/towncentrePSPO