VIDEO: ‘Aggressive beggars need to be moved out of town’

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Aggressive beggars could be issued with fines of up to £100 under new rules proposed by Wakefield Council.

The council has started consultation over plans to introduce a new Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) to combat aggressive begging after reports that people felt threatened into handing over money.

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Councillor Maureen Cummings said: “We hope that the aggressive beggars who only want cash will move out of our towns and city.”

PSPOs control how people can use areas which are home to problem behaviours.

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Allan Jones has lived in Wakefield for more than 60 years. He said: “It’s got a lot worse in the town. The shouting and bawling frightens people. It’s spoiling the town. The behaviour is unacceptable, it’s terrible.”

A number of business owners in Wakefield are aware of the problem. Malcolm Hepworth, owner of Tails Pet Shop, says he has had beggars become aggressive towards him when he refuses to allow them into his shop.

The consultation asks people and business owners in Pontefract, Castleford and Wakefield if they have witnessed or been a victim of aggressive begging and whether they support the introduction of the PSPO.

But while some people say that they have witnessed the begging, many are not aware of the problem.

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One said: “They just sit there with a little cup.

“Sometimes they ask you for change, usually they wish you a good morning.”

Under the new proposals, police officers, PCSOs and councillors would be able to issue fines to anyone they considered to be in breach of the order.

Aggressive begging is defined as: “A solicitation made in person for immediate donation of money or another gratuity.”

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A similar PSPO is already in place to tackle street drinking and urinating and defecating in alleyways.

Since its introduction in April 2017, more than 450 incidents have been recorded and 30 fixed penalty notices issued.

The consultation runs until August 19 and can be accessed at www.wakefield.gov.uk/pspo.