By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
The renewal of a legal public order designed to cut offences like dog fouling and littering in Mansfield is expected to move forward this week.
However, a leading council official says the order is just “one tool” in a raft of intervention measures used by the authority to clamp down on public offences – with staff hoping they “never have to use it”.
The public spaces protection order (PSPO), if renewed by the Labour-led authority, would grant council officers and the police the ability to fine people if they are found committing a number of wide-reaching offences.
This would include a continued ban on street drinking and restrictions on cycling through parts of the town centre, as well as begging, public urination and dog fouling across various areas of the district.
Other parts of the order would include continued powers to move people on when being anti-social in public spaces, as well as preventing dogs from being let off leads in public parks and play areas.
These offences have been included in a district-wide PSPO since 2019, but now the authority is renewing its terms for a further three years and adding new offences to the order.
One new addition includes banning off-road vehicles from using a parcel of land near Oak Tree and Forest Town known as ‘The Desert’.
The land, near Eakring Road, is a popular path for hikers and dog walkers but has been plagued by longstanding problems with off-road vehicles and motorcyclists using its sandy terrain.
The council says these motorists have been “putting the safety of [residents] … at risk” and, following a consultation earlier this year, found the majority of respondents were supportive of the move.
Now Councillor Marion Bradshaw (Lab), portfolio holder for safer communities, is due to take an executive decision to progress with the order on Friday (August 19).
In the recommendation, she will call for members of the full council meeting – which includes all councillors on the authority – to green-light the order next month.
In papers published ahead of the decision, a council spokesperson said: “The PSPO allows for the proportionate enforcement of actions that are persistent local ASB issues. The majority of those consulted agree with the enactment.”
However, Adam Hill, the council’s new chief executive officer, says the order will act as one of many tools used by the authority to keep the district safe.
He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “What we need to remember is that a PSPO is only as good as the rest of the tools we’ve got around it. It’s only one tool in our toolbox and it’s almost a last attempt [at enforcement].
“It does give us and the police the power to be able to deal with things when it’s got to a worse position – anti-social behaviour, excessive drinking and so on. But there’s lots of intervention we do, working in partnership.
“Our crime isn’t the worst, by a long chalk, and it’s a positive message to have another tool of clamping down.
“It’s only on excessive anti-social behaviour where we would use a PSPO, but it’s good to know it’s there should we need it. I’d compare it with car insurance – you need to have it but hope you never have to use it.”