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Campaign groups protest against council's proposal to introduce PSPO in town centre

PUBLISHED: 07:00 30 March 2017 | UPDATED: 09:35 30 March 2017

Busker Johnny Walker.

Busker Johnny Walker.

Archant

Campaign groups are fighting against an "inappropriate" proposal which they say could lead to the demise of buskers and target the vulnerable.

Independent human rights organisation Liberty has written to Havering Council, expressing its concern for the plan to introduce a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) which would ban begging.

The letter states: “A PSPO is an extremely blunt measure and is incapable of addressing the complex needs of some of the people likely to be targeted by the PSPO.

“We are therefore concerned by the prohibition on “begging and the seeking of alms”.

“We consider that this prohibition is unreasonable and will have a harmful and disproportionate effect on the most vulnerable people in Romford.

“Whilst we appreciate that the council is still at a consultative stage, we are concerned that the PSPO is unsupported by evidence, and its proposed terms on begging and busking are inappropriate and possibly unlawful.

“Liberty therefore urges the council to reconsider its proposal.”

A consultation launched earlier this month asking whether the PSPO which could see people fined £1,000 if prosecuted for other acts including street drinking, spitting and charity solicitation, also known as “chugging”.

Non-profit organisation Keep Street Live! which campaigns for buskers’ rights, started a petition last week calling for the council to not go ahead with banning buskers using amplified equipment in the town centre, which has been signed by more than 1,000 people.

A peaceful - and musical - protest was held in South Street, Romford, yesterday (Thurs) asking for residents to support the campaign.

Founding director Johnny Walker said: “Busking adds a huge amount of life, vibrancy, colour and a sense of community in the town centre and the council’s idea to ban amplified equipment will make it a no-go area for buskers.

“They are simplifying complex issues and tarnishing everyone with the same brush, saying that everyone who plays music or begs is anti-social behaviour.

“I know it is still in the consultation stage so I would like to reiterate that Keep Street Live! would like to work with the council to keep good music in the town.”

The consultation period ends on April 5.

To sign the petition visit here

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