Residents who want to support homeless people have been urged to give money directly to local charities as the council continues to crack down on begging in the town centre.
Nine people have recently been convicted of breaching the town centre Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) at Bolton Magistrates Court.
The town centre PSPO was introduced in 2019 and prohibits a number of activities including street drinking and cycling in pedestrianised areas.
Under the PSPO “all persons are prohibited from placing themselves in a position to beg or solicit money” in the town centre.
Many people reasonably believe those soliciting in the street are homeless and need money to access accommodation.
However, all of those recently prosecuted for begging activity are known to the council and already have access to accommodation.
The council’s enforcement officers had previously engaged with all the individuals on multiple occasions and advised to refrain from engaging in begging activities.
Eventually they were issued with Fixed Penalty Notices, which went unpaid.
Subsequently, each failed to attend court and were convicted in their absence. Fines of between £100 and £200 were issued, along with costs of £100 each.
Bolton Council’s Deputy Leader, Cllr Hilary Fairclough said:
“People begging on the streets can be intimidating to others and put people off visiting the town centre.
“The council supports those who are genuinely homeless, but we will crack down on anyone who comes into Bolton to exploit the generosity of our residents.
“Each of these individuals is known to the council and are known to have access to accommodation, regardless of any claims they might make.
“Anyone wanting to support people in genuine need, I would urge to give your money direct to a local charity.”
Anyone who is sleeping rough on the streets and in need of accommodation can attend the Homeless Aid UK drop in where they will have access to the internet and phone. The service is available Monday – Saturday between 11am-1pm. The address is Surestore, Orlando Street, Off Manchester Road, BL2 1BU.
If you come across a rough sleeper you can let us know in confidence by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephoning the Housing Options Services on 01204 335900.