Bedford Borough Council has announced today (31 Jul) that a controversial Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), that prevents cycling in the town centre will stay in place for a further three years.
A consultation started in March asked residents what they thought of PSPOs and if they should continue. The majority of respondents said they agreed with the orders being in place.
The Borough Council says just 215 people took part in the consultation. They have not yet revealed the number of people who were in favour of the PSPOs continuing.
The 2011 census list the population of Bedford’s built-up area at 106,940. We have asked Bedford Borough Council if, given the small number of responses to the consultation, if they have also taken other factors into account. We await their reply.
Now with the consultation closed, orders restricting cycling in the pedestrianised area of the town centre from 9am to 6pm will remain, as will dog control orders and dog fouling orders for various locations across the Borough.
Data collected by the Cycling Campaign for North Bedfordshire (CCNB), since the implementation of the PSPO in 2016, shows there has been a decline in the number of responsible cyclists coming into the town centre.
They believe the ban should be continued for aggressive and irresponsible cyclists but should not be targeting all cyclists, who are then forced to use heavily congested roads around the town centre.
Peter Blakeman of the CCNB said: “We were disappointed to hear that within the first month of operation they had given out 181 fixed penalty notices (FPNs). By July this had increased to 935 and by September to 1127.
“A number of reports were heard of the aggressive behaviour of the officers towards the elderly and foreign visitors.”
The PSPOs have been heavily criticised at their negative impact in the town, with some complaining of bullying tactics by the officers handing out the fixed penalty notices (FPNs).
Round-the-world cyclist, Josh Quigley, also fell foul of the PSPO regarding town-centre cycling earlier this year, taking to social media to vent his frustration.
Since January 2018, enforcement of the PSPO has been contracted out to private company, Kingdom Securities.
The number of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) issued by Kingdom Securities rose six-fold within just nine months (181 in January 2018 to 1,127 in September 2018).
Duncan Dollimore of Cycling UK has also added his thoughts to the debate comparing PSPOs to “geographically defined ASBOs”.
The Council says it receives hundreds of complaints of dog fouling and other breaches, which impact on those who want to use the Council’s open spaces, safe and free from dog issues, such as fouling.
1,800 fixed penalty notices have been issued to individuals who have been found to be breaking the orders since they were originally introduced in 2016.
Cllr Charles Royden, Portfolio Holder for Environment said “These Orders will allow us to continue to carry out enforcement activities against these unwelcome and anti-social behaviours.
“It is a priority that our town centre, parks and open spaces continue to be clean, safe and welcoming environments for local residents and visitors to our Borough.”
In a previous article on PSPOs, Cllr Royden said: “We have a zero-tolerance approach, and anyone found breaking the law will be fined.”
Commenting on complaints of heavy handedness by Kingdom Securities officers, he added: “If any of them are found to be too heavy handed they will be dealt with, and none of them are above the law. If you aren’t happy with how an enforcement officer has behaved, then tell us.”