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Council to start fining people for lying down, cycling and more from TODAY

PUBLISHED: 09:02 15 August 2016 | UPDATED: 14:55 15 August 2016

Gravesend town centre

Gravesend town centre

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A new set of rules has banned sleeping in open spaces in Gravesend

People caught sleeping or lying down in open spaces in Gravesend will face fines of up to £75 from next week.

From Monday, August 15 the ‘grace period’ for Gravesham Borough Council’s new Public Space Protection Order will end, and the council will start to fine anyone in breach of the order.

Officially brought in at the start of July, the order has banned a number of activities in certain parts of the town, including cycling between 10am and 6pm.

Among the anti-social behaviour banned was the disposal of ‘legal highs’ in public.

The order also states: ““Persons, who are not homeless or a vulnerable adult, will not lie down, or sleep, or deposit any materials used or intended to be used as bedding in any public space within the area.”

“The order will also apply to persons lying down or sleeping in the open air or within a vehicle or other non-fixed structure such as a caravan or tent without prior permissions of the council.”

First-time offenders will be given a warning by council officers.

The council’s first draft of the order had called for a ban on rough sleepers, but campaigners had branded the proposals ‘unlawful’.

Alcohol restriction zones have also been implemented across the town.

Human rights group, Liberty, was critical of the original draft for the order.

Legal officer at the group, Rosie Brighouse, said: “It’s encouraging that the council has attempted to prevent vulnerable people falling foul of its bans on lying down and sleeping - but it should have scrapped the plans altogether.

“The amended PSPO raises more questions than it answers. Who will assess whether someone is vulnerable or homeless, or determine whether any accommodation is actually suitable for them?

“The fact is someone rough sleepers - and anyone who lies down in Woodlands Park this summer - may find themselves ending up inadvertently on the wrong side of the law.”

A Gravesham council spokesman said: “The Public Space Protection Order is designed to make the area covered by it safer, cleaner and better. The order is not intended to prevent people taking a picnic and having a snooze in the sunshine in our parks or on the promenade. Enforcement officers are experienced and will only take action when there is an obvious problem. We expect them to use their common sense in applying these measures and they have been trained to do so.

“As an example, last week an adult male decided to remove his t-shirt, lie down and fell asleep in a shopping thoroughfare with his t-shirt over his head. Concerned passers-by reported this fearing for his health. This order enabled officers to ask him to move – a power they did not have before.

“The order has been worded after careful legal advice but its interpretation will be down to officers on the spot. The order will be reviewed in the light of its effects in due course following its full implementation.”

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