‘Bird brained’ ban on feed­ing pi­geons

List of ac­tiv­i­ties Hilling­don coun­cil wants to stop

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Will Ack­er­mann will.ack­er­mann@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

FEED­ING pi­geons and us­ing re­mote-con­trolled cars in parks are among a raft of ac­tiv­i­ties Hilling­don Coun­cil wants to ban.

The coun­cil has listed eight ac­tiv­i­ties it pro­poses to pro­hibit in the bor­ough’s parks and open spa­ces, plus five it hopes to out­law in all public places. Un­der the pro­pos­als – now open to public con­sul­ta­tion – all of the ac­tions would be made crim­i­nal of­fences, pun­ish­able by a Fixed Penalty No­tice of £80.

The tar­geted ac­tiv­i­ties also in­clude fail­ing to leave any park by closing time, spit­ting any­where in public and hav­ing more than four dogs in one per­son’s sole charge in any park or open space.

How­ever Josie Ap­ple­ton, founder of civil lib­er­ties group the Man­i­festo Club, de­scribed the ban on feed­ing pi­geons in par­tic­u­lar, as “bird­brained”. She added: “Es­sen­tially, this is a move of coun­cils into in­ter­fer­ing with ac­tiv­i­ties in public spa­ces in a way that’s re­ally not nec­es­sary and not help­ful.

“What you end up with is sani­tised streets and parks with a list of banned ac­tiv­i­ties at the en­trance, and it’s not free any more. It’s not public space; it’s of­fi­cial space.

“The idea that an old lady feed­ing the birds is in some way a crime is out­ra­geous. For some el­derly peo­ple that gives them a lot of plea­sure and it doesn’t hurt any­one.

“This, es­sen­tially, is the coun­cil’s idea that pretty much any­thing peo­ple are do­ing is du­bi­ous and po­ten­tially crim­i­nal, and that’s just not the case.”

Un­der the pro­pos­als, the fol­low­ing ac­tiv­i­ties would be banned in parks and open spa­ces: re­fus­ing to stop drink­ing or hand over al­co­hol when re­quired to do so by a po­lice or coun­cil of­fi­cer; motorcycling off-road; us­ing noisy ra­dio­con­trolled model ve­hi­cles and air­craft, ex­cept where al­lowed; camp­ing; light­ing fires or bar­be­cues with­out the coun­cil’s con­sent; feed­ing pi­geons; hav­ing more than four dogs in a per­son’s sole charge; fail­ing to pick up dog foul­ing; fail­ing to place a lead on a dog when re­quired to do so; let­ting a dog be in a chil­dren’s play area; and fail­ing to leave a park at the des­ig­nated closing time or when re­quired to do so by a po­lice or coun­cil of­fi­cer.

In ad­di­tion, the fol­low­ing would be banned from all public places: re­fus­ing to stop drink­ing or hand over al­co­hol when re­quired to do so by a po­lice or coun­cil of­fi­cer; spit­ting; feed­ing pi­geons; fail­ing to place a lead on a dog when the dog is on a pave­ment by a road; and fail­ing to pick up dog foul­ing.

Jean Palmer, the coun­cil’s deputy chief ex­ec­u­tive and cor­po­rate direc­tor of res­i­dents ser­vices, said: “This is an op­por­tu­nity to up­date the bor­ough’s by-laws us­ing the new Public Spa­ces Pro­tec­tion Or­der (PSPO) pow­ers and I would en­cour­age res­i­dents to let us know what they think of our pro­pos­als.

“Th­ese mea­sures are in­tended to help us keep the lo­cal area safe, clean and pleas­ant, and coun­cil em­ploy­ees and po­lice of­fi­cers will use com­mon sense when en­forc­ing pro­hib­ited ac­tiv­i­ties such as feed­ing pi­geons and rac­ing re­mote-con­trolled cars.”

Coun­cils across the UK have been able to im­ple­ment such mea­sures since the Anti-So­cial Be­hav­iour, Crime and Polic­ing Act was in­tro­duced in Oc­to­ber last year. The act gives lo­cal au­thor­i­ties new pow­ers to en­force Public Spa­ces Pro­tec­tion Or­ders (PSPOs), ban­ning any ac­tiv­ity they judge to have a “detri­men­tal ef­fect” on an area’s “qual­ity of life”.

Us­ing th­ese new pow­ers, Ox­ford City Coun­cil has passed a PSPO pro­hibit­ing peo­ple un­der the age of 21 from en­ter­ing a par­tic­u­lar tower block un­less they live there or are vis­it­ing some­one who does.

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