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Town’s beggars to be moved on

BEGGARSand street drinkers are to be moved away from the town centre in a move by Maidstone Borough Council. The authority’s housing and en- vironment committee has agreed to adopt the use of a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) to crack down on associated antisocial be- haviour. The PSPO provision includes the problems of street drinking, litter- ing and “verbal intimidation by beggars”. Rough sleepers will not be affected by the move. The order would mainly cover

the town centre, spreading over to Whatman Park, Fant and Tovil. TheMBCreport said: “APSPO is designed to stop antisocial behav- iour in a public place. "They can cover a wide range of behaviours and enable local au- thorities to deal with a particular nuisance or problem in a particular area that is detrimental to the local community’s quality of life.” The moves was criticised by the homeless charity Porchlight, which feels those people affected by the enforcement of the order will be-

come "criminalised" and pushed out into areas where there is no support for their issues. A spokesman said PSPOs work

best where charities work with the enforcing authorities. MBC spent £228,000 on tempo-

rary housing for rough sleepers be- tween March and June and has forecast £916,000 for the year. This is double the forecasted figure in the budget. Anyone who breaches the PSPO

order could be liable to a fine or taken to court, which could grant an injunction banning that person from the area. The number of reports to police

of antisocial behaviour in Maid- stone has fallen by 25 per cent over three years, says the report. How- ever, Maidstone still has the fifth highest level of antisocial crime in the county. The council has faced repeated complaints from residents, visitors and businesses about antisocial be- haviour including drinking, litter- ing from legal highs and “verbal intimidation from beggars and rough sleepers” over the last year.

Shelter scheme needs help

MAIDSTONE’S Winter Shelter scheme is looking for volunteers to provide a warm and safe haven for the town’s homeless this Christ- mas.

There is no sign of letting up for the scheme, which is entering its

fourth year, with volunteers helping 77 homeless people, including a pregnant woman, last year. Seven churches and a community centre in Maidstone have teamed

up this year to provide 15 beds offering comfort to some of those sleep- ing on the streets on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day and from January 3 to March 28. Project manager Alexa Kersting-Woods says for the service to oper-

ate, more than 200 volunteers are needed. She said: “Maidstone has never let us down in responding to the call

for volunteers for this scheme, which is truly rewarding. “People can sign up for as little as a couple of hours to help out, es- pecially overnight.” The scheme is funded by donations from private firms, Maidstone churches and grants from organisations including Maidstone Borough Council and also puts the homeless in touch with support services. If you can help, please call 01622 296 450 or email


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