Of 9,930 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) that were issued in England and Wales in 2018 for breaching Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs), 1,489 were issued in Bedford. Yet the majority, if not all of the PSPOs are unenforceable for one of two reasons.
Regulations under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Police Act 2014 state that there should be sufficient signage in the area of the PSPO to draw attention to those using the area, setting out the effect of the Order. The Order must also be published on the Council’s website. The signage in the area does not necessarily need to set out all the provisions of the Order, but rather state where this information can be found.
If there is no signage displayed it is unlawful to issue a FPN.
If signage for the PSPO is displayed on the highway (the highway includes the road, footpath and grass verge) it is unlawful to issue a FPN, as the signage is not permitted signage within the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016 (TSRGD2016).
Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016
The purpose of the TSRGD2016 is to ensure that all signage on the highway delivers an unambiguous and speedily understood message, for obvious reasons.
Every sign on the highway must be contained in the TSRGD2016 or be approved by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State cannot approve any signage that does not deliver an unambiguous and speedily understood message.
Overexuberant Local Authorities
Local Authorities, including Bedford Borough Council, have become overexuberant in their use of PSPOs. They regularly fail to remember the intention of Parliament when they passed legislation that permitted the introduction of PSPOs.
They are orders to protect public spaces like children’s play areas and parks, not the highway. Hence the name. The TSRGD2016 does not apply to children’s play areas and parks.
Complaint – Action Required
I have registered a formal complaint with Bedford Borough Council for issuing the unlawful FPNs for PSPOs on the highway.
In addition, Bedford Borough Council must reimburse all unlawful FPNs issued and cease the issuing of FPNs for all PSPOs that apply to the highway.
The TSRGD2016 makes all PSPOs that apply to the highway unenforceable.