Serious civil liberty implications - solicitor questions a ban on swearing and loitering in a Soham footpath

PUBLISHED: 14:21 18 January 2016

Soham footpath where swearing and loitering is to be banned 2

Soham footpath where swearing and loitering is to be banned 2

Archant

An order to stop loitering and swearing in a Soham footpath and outside the sports centre has serious civil liberty implications, according to a solicitor who lives in the town.

Soham footpath where swearing and loitering is to be banned 2Soham footpath where swearing and loitering is to be banned 2

The Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) means if anyone is caught breaking the rules they can be fined up to £100.

The order was given the go ahead by East Cambs District Council commercial services committee at its January 13 meeting and is due to go live on March 7.

But a local solicitor said: “The path is very quiet and peaceful. The council is effectively proposing to designate an area in Soham as “dangerous.”

“This is a significantly stigmatising matter for the town and not one that mirrors the impression most residents have.

“It is certainly not the experience of those of us that use this path regularly. There is hardly ever anyone on the path. It is quiet and peaceful day and night.”

She added: “It gives a very negative views of the safety of Soham and its college.

“I have not once, in six years, been bothered by anyone. I can honestly say that there is nothing happening on that path that negatively affects local residents’ quality of life.

“I have never seen anything untoward at the leisure centre. Hundreds of children and parents use the path to get to and from school.

“Loitering and swearing are not criminal offences,” she said.

Police will only reveal that there were 14 incidents in 2014 and 10 in 2013 but would not say what they involved, she added.

The order will last for three years but can be challenged within six weeks of the order being made.

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