Council seeks order to criminalise riding on its land

  • Riders could face fines if they are caught crossing a patch of public land if a divisive protection order is given the go ahead.

    New Romney Town Council has submitted a request for a public space protection order (PSPO), which would criminalise riding on The Greens at Littlestone.

    The request follows “some complaints and concern for other users” of the patch of grassland.

    One resident told local news she believes New Romney Town council is being “petty”.

    Town clerk Catherine Newcombe told H&H riding has been “prohibited by the town council”, which owns the patch of grassland, for “many years”.

    She added that a complaint about riding on The Greens, which is a site of special scientific interest, was reported at a recent council meeting.

    “Members were advised that the district council was in the process of preparing new PSPOs in respect of dog control,” said Ms Newcome.

    “So if the [town] council still wished to pursue the seeking of a method of deterring horse riding on The Greens, a PSPO might be deemed appropriate and, if so, this would be an appropriate time to make such a request.

    “If the district council was to consider this an appropriate measure, it would then be required to undertake a period of public consultation prior to taking any action and the town council, would, of course, make local residents aware of the opportunity to voice their opinion on the matter.”

    Mrs Newcombe also encouraged residents to share their views at the next New Romney Town Council meeting, which will be held at 6.45pm on 9 October at New Romney Town Hall.

    PSPOs came into existence under the Policing and Crime Act 2014 and have given rise to several high-profile disputes in other areas of the country.

    These include a PSPO to stop rough sleeping in part of Hackney in 2015, which was dropped following an 80,000-strong petition against it.

    Kensington and Chelsea also introduced a PSPO to tackle noisy cars in 2016 and can issue offenders with fines between £100-£1,000.

    PSPOs criminalise otherwise lawful activities in certain public places and they can be targeted at specific groups or activities, making them a controversial measure.

    A spokesman for Shepway District Council confirmed the authority had received a request from New Romney Town Council to consider introducing a PSPO to ban riding on The Greens.

    “However, we would need a large number of complaints — and evidence — that horse riding is causing a nuisance to justify a PSPO, which we don’t have at the moment,” she said.

    “However when PSPOs were introduced, the same legislation introduced community protection notices which are used to target an individual, groups, or even organisations committing anti-social behaviour that’s detrimental to the local community.

    “We have just trained our front-line environment protection officers and Kent Police’s neighbourhood officers about how to use these powers if they think they are needed in the communities they serve.”

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