Bishop calls for council to rethink homeless fines

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A Staffordshire church leader has opposed the council’s proposal to enforce fines on rough sleepers.

The council which proposed a ban on begging, along with anti-social behaviour in the city centre, which sees beggars being served a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) which carries a court fine of up to £1000.

The area Bishop of Stafford is urging the council to provide resolutions such as homeless hubs and youth centres before the new order is implemented.

Following last year’s proposal, which was dropped by the government due to petition receiving 15,743 signatures, a total of 777 people have signed against the scheme for a second time.

Geoff Annas, the area Bishop of Stafford, expressed his thoughts towards the new proposition:

“You can’t put the cart before the horse. It’s all very well but where are all these people going to go, what are you going to do with them.

“At the moment the council are proposing a couple of really good ideas, one to provide a hub for homeless people where they can go and there many problems can be address, and also the idea of some sort of youth centre for younger people who are either not in full time education or aren’t in employment.

“Both of those things will be a great asset and would really help, but until you’ve got some sort of provision like that, you can make as many orders as you like but people have got to go somewhere and we are talking about people who have nowhere to go.’’

A local resident shared their thoughts on the issue: “I don’t think it will work because they don’t supervise it they come out with these suggestions but they don’t police them.

“I think that they shouldn’t be in the town, but I do think somebody should help them, they’ve got to move somewhere haven’t they.”

The consultation runs until Friday November 9. People can give their views by filling in the form at http://www.stoke.gov.uk/PSPO

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