Cheshire West and Chester Council are currently consulting the public in regard to putting in place a PSPO (Public Space Protection Order).
The proposal and consultation documents are available online here: http://www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/your_council/consultations_and_petitions/council_consultations/proposed_public_space_protecti.aspx
These proposals are illiberal nonsense and will criminalise buskers, the homeless, bird feeders and those taking ‘legal highs’ within the PSPO zone – which essentially covers the city centre.
We do not need to give the police powers to arrest people feeding the birds, rough sleepers or buskers as they already have the power to move people on.
As for wanting the powers to arrest people for taking ‘legal highs’ in public? Well, the problem is there in the phrase ‘legal high’ – you simply cannot arrest someone for doing something that is legal.
Yes, there are issues and dangers relating to legal highs but there are new drug legislations being introduced to try and tackle this.
CH1BID (Business Improvement District), a group which claim to represent the interests of city shops and traders, want control over the public space of our streets.
CH1BID want to specify the places buskers can play and control their access to play in the first place. This is yet more dangerous outrageous illiberal ‘big brother’ nonsense from those that would use a hammer to crack a nut.
We are trying to become a city of culture and will have a new theatre soon so trying to clamp down on street performers makes no sense.
York got it right with a new code of practice for buskers which was mutually agreed upon through sensible negotiation.
We are strongly in favour of a new voluntary code of practice to be agreed with buskers which follows the York model. This is option 2 in the consultation.
The key to all of these issues are that none of these activities are causing any harm to anybody else, so the PSPO is not valid.
Liberty have already threatened that they would legally challenge the PSPO if it came in to force, as they have done in other cities.
Do you want the police to be able to arrest buskers for being too loud, playing too long, at the wrong place or just for not being considered as good enough?
As fellow Liberal Democrats we hope you can see the importance of the key liberty issues affecting our city with these proposal and that we need to resoundingly tell them ‘No’.
Please spend just ten minutes online completing the consultation questionnaire ASAP. After doing so, please tell people about it and pass the link on. It is vital that as many people respond to the consultation as possible.
Let us together protect our liberties and those of some of the most vulnerable in our society.