Ashfield residents to have their say on plans to ban catcalling and nuisance vehicle use

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Ashfield Council leaders say catcalling and other street harassment ‘has got to stop’ as they begin a consultation on using legal powers to ban it in the district.

The authority is planning to make it an offence under an existing Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) which is coming up for renewal this year.

Residents can currently face a fixed penalty notice fine for the anti-social use of alcohol and dogs and for urinating in public places.

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If approved, the order would be extended for another three years, with street harassment and the ‘nuisance use of groups of vehicles’ added.

Ashfield Council is holding a public consultation on whether more ASBs should be banned. Photo: SubmittedAshfield Council is holding a public consultation on whether more ASBs should be banned. Photo: Submitted
Ashfield Council is holding a public consultation on whether more ASBs should be banned. Photo: Submitted

PSPOs are legal orders which give a council the powers to stop people from creating disturbances in public places through dangerous or annoying acts.

Breaching a PSPO is a criminal offence.

However, if the offender pays a fixed penalty notice of £100 (or £60 within the first ten days), no prosecution will take place.

If it goes to court, offenders who are convicted could face a fine of up to £1,000.

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PSPOs can be enforced by police officers, community safety officers and any person designated by the council, such as a third party company.

Coun John Wilmott (Ash Ind), executive leader for community safety and crime reduction, who represents Hucknall North, told a cabinet meeting on April 8: “There is nothing worse than a young girl walking down our high streets and being harassed.

“It has got to stop, and it will be stopped.”

He said a survey of 141 Ashfield women and girls had found that 85 per cent reported taking some form of safety precautions when they were alone in public spaces, which he described as ‘unacceptable’.

The proposed ban would apply to ‘catcalling’ – a rude or unwelcome comment, which is often sexually suggestive – as well as other intimidating behaviour.

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The PSPO would also widen a ban on groups of vehicles creating a nuisance, such as revving engines, playing loud music and performing stunts like ‘doughnuts’ or drifting.

It currently only applies to an area around junction 27 of the M1 for Annesley and Hucknall, where there have been previous problems with car meets.

It is proposed to widen it to cover the entire district.

There would also be a ban on promoting ‘car cruising’ events on social media.

Coun Tom Hollis (Ash Ind), deputy leader, who represents Huthwaite & Brierley, said he had been ‘very impressed’ with the PSPO’s impact around junction 27.

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He added: “Dog fouling used to be a huge issue in my mailbag which disappeared but has started coming back again – hopefully this will get on top of it.”

Dog owners can be given fixed penalty notices if they don’t pick up after their dogs in public places, or can’t show a method of picking up when asked.

They are also required to keep their pets on leads in certain public areas.

The consultation will begin on April 15 for six weeks, with the decision to be made by the full council in September.

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