Cllr James McKay, Cabinet Member for Inclusion and Community Safety, has today (July 7) offered an update on the proposal for a Public Spaces Protection Order for parts of Birmingham city centre…
He said: “We began the consultation over a possible Public Spaces Protection Order in response to an increasing number of complaints raised by residents, visitors and businesses regarding buskers, street speakers and street entertainers, and in particular regarding the use of amplification in street speaking and entertainment.
“The PSPO is a new power available to councils, and we were getting a lot of requests asking if Birmingham could have one, so we decided to see what people thought.
“During the recent period of public consultation into the proposal, we’ve heard a wide range of strong opinions both for and against the idea.
“In total, 570 responses were received via the council’s Be Heard consultation portal – with a further 72 emails and 2 written responses received by officers through other channels.
“I am really grateful to everyone who responded. To do justice to the process, we need to take a little time to reflect carefully on all the responses, and consider the best way to move forward from here.
“An initial look suggests that many people did indeed feel that amplified noise (both music and speaking) is a nuisance in the city centre, impacting on residents, visitors and businesses.
“Others felt that the vibrancy of Birmingham’s street scene is a critical part of its appeal, and we should not do anything to damage freedom of expression, be that music or speech, in the city centre.
“There were also specific concerns raised about protecting the right to protest. All of these viewpoints need to be considered, carefully and respectfully.
“Now we need to pause to analyse all submissions, before preparing a public report that will outline the findings, and help us shape policy appropriately in the future.
“We will be carrying out that analysis with a completely open mind. This will be a fair and transparent process. Moreover, while I understand that people will want to know what the council’s response will be, we cannot get this right, if we try to do it in a rush.
“The PSPO legalisation is an emerging area of the law, that is being tested almost daily by councils as they get to grips with how it works, and the implications of it being adopted to tackle matters of concern.
“We want to get this right for everyone in Birmingham – the detailed analysis of the consultation feedback will help us to do this.”