PSPO fines agreed for Basildon

Fines for street drinking, drug taking, public urination and car meets in town centres and parks across Basildon have been set at £100 by the borough council.

Basildon Council’s newly-formed cabinet met last night (July 7) to set the level of fixed penalty notices for a borough-wide public space protection order (PSPO), which was approved earlier this year.

The measures are intended to tackle antisocial behaviour which is “blighting the lives of residents” in places like Basildon and Pitsea town centre, Barn Hall Recreation Ground and Wickford Memorial Park.

The fine for breaching the ban has now been set at £100, but this will be discounted to £75 if paid within seven days of being issued.

But critics at the meeting condemned the borough’s lack of youth services, claiming there is “no place for young people to go to”.

Council leader Andrew Baggott (Con, Burstead) said: “I am incredibly keen on ensuring that we have law and order within the borough and that the residents can go about their lives feeling safe and secure in every aspect.

“That we should be tough on enforcement, that we should be tough on crime and that we should be tough on antisocial behaviour.”

In addition to abuses of alcohol and drugs, the council wants to crack down on boy racers, with use any motor vehicles without “reasonable excuse” or permission from the council banned in several of the borough’s parks by the PSPO.

Appearing at the meeting, opposition leader Maryam Yaqub (Labour, St Martins) said she supported measures to reduce low-level crime, but criticised Conservative councillors for scrapping the Youth Zone last year, a youth centre in Basildon planned under the previous Labour-Independent administration which she said would have helped reduce antisocial behaviour.

She said: “It is important to raise awareness of these issues and it is important to take a more holistic approach towards all issues that contribute towards antisocial behaviour.

“One of them is the fact that there is no place for young people to go to, there aren’t enough provisions for young people.”

Cllr Baggott said the youth zone was scrapped because it would have been too high a cost for the council.

Meanwhile, Councillor Terri Sargent (Con, Crouch) said the council is currently creating an app for young people to help with youth outreach, which will list activities held in the borough.

Councillor Andrew Schrader (Con, Billericay East) said the issue was not limited to young people or Basildon town centre.

“It does a disservice to young people and I think the notion that the only reason young people in the borough are going round committing crimes or antisocial behaviour is because they don’t have a youth centre in Basildon town centre is fanciful.”

Later he said: “I think that this is a really, really important new weapon in our arsenal in tackling these issues, because antisocial behaviour, low-level crime, it’s absolutely blighting the lives of residents.”

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Charlie Ridler

Local Democracy Reporter