Fears over new rules at Pendle to help end bad behavior in parks and spaces

Concerns have been raised over proposed new powers, which would allow Borough and Pendle Parish Council officials to request the names and addresses of people suspected of breaking the rules in parks and open spaces, such as dog owners who do not put their animals on a leash or who collect dog excrement in a bag when asked.

Pendle Borough Council has updated public space protection orders designed to stop bad behavior in parks, sports grounds or other places such as squares or town centres.

The orders are similar to antisocial behavior orders that can be imposed on individuals to control their conduct. But instead, they set the rules for everyone’s behavior in a place.

Borough councilors are recommended by officers to update the ordinances for another three years. In addition, councilors are recommended to add a new offense of failing to provide a name and address, or giving false details, when requested by a council official if they have been seen in violation. of an order relating to the public space.

The councilors of all the sector committees of the borough were invited this month to give their opinion on the decrees which are ready to be renewed.

But doubts were expressed at the last meeting of the Barrowford & Western Parish Committee. Some advisers asked how willing their counterparts would be to approach strangers in the parks and ask for their contact details. Concerns about data protection and privacy have also been raised.

Conservative Councilor Nadeem Ahmed, who is also head of the Council, said: “This is something we need to look at and revisit. I agree with the first recommendation, but I am slightly concerned about the second recommendation. These are “agents” of the council and make it an offense if someone does not provide them with their name and address,

“I understand why credentials are requested because some people will refuse to give their details. My concern is, are these powers going too far?

Robert Oliver, representing Barrowford Parish Council, said: “I understand you are not obliged to give your details to the police unless you are arrested, so I don’t know how that would be done.”

Councilors were informed that the borough’s Nelson, Brierfield and Reedley Committee had recently accepted the additional recommendations. However, the Colne committee was less sure and unsure how the additional rules might work.

Robin Willoughby, representing Higham Parish Council at the Barrowford committee meeting, said: “A few parish councils need to be included in relation to their own parks. However, who is an “authorized” agent? We had a conversation about it. Does this include parish councilors with their parks?

“I understand that the first part of the schedule is putting a dog on a leash at the request of an ‘officer’ which includes parish councillors. The second part is to have the dog owner show they have a bag to pick up dog dirt, and that includes parish councilors.

“As far as asking for names and addresses, do parish councilors have that power or not? I think they should and we support that. This should be added (to public space protection orders).

“Authorized persons must be satisfied that another offense has been committed before requesting a name and address. Chances are they’re having a conversation about a leash or a doggie bag. But unless they can get a name and address, those credentials wouldn’t be of much use.”

He added: “There are other situations that could require a fine, but that is only something an authorized Pendle Borough Council officer could do.

Councilor Ahmed added: “There are legitimate concerns about the disorder of the dogs and other issues. But any action must be done with sensitivity and fairness. How often do members of the public refuse to give their contact details to our officers? It would be interesting to know the numbers. If it’s a high number, like 50%, then that’s a problem. But if it’s only occasional, maybe it’s not serious? But we need to know the numbers before making a decision.

A council official said the figure could be provided at a later meeting and reported to the borough’s more powerful policy and resources committee, which often has the final say on decisions.

But Conservative adviser Carlo Lionti stressed: “We have to find out about the legality. What kind of power do we have? A council officer should be able to tell us what’s going on? »

Councilor Ahmed added: “There is enough information about the process. But we ask, do “authorized” agents have the legal power to ask these questions? We’ll have to take advice from the officers in the legal department.

Mr Willoughby said some parish councils may be reluctant to use the new name and address request powers,

David Goldsbrough, representing the Barley Parish Council, said: “People are going to ask where the data is stored? Data protection means that information must be stored correctly. You cannot leave someone’s name and address on a notebook. He needs to go somewhere safe. ”

Councilor Ahmed said the various concerns would be forwarded to the Borough’s Policy and Resources Committee.

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