Published: 06:00, 24 September 2021
| Updated: 14:50, 24 September 2021
People caught barbecuing or boozing in beauty spots could face on-the-spot fines from next week, when a ban is introduced across the Canterbury district.
The city council authorised the dishing out of £100 penalties to park-goers flouting a host of new rules, which have long been mooted.
But the authority has yet to decide whether the restrictions - which include a ban on glass bottles and disposable barbecues - will extend to beaches.
From Westgate Gardens and Hambrook Marshes, to Duncan Down and Benacre Wood, 20 popular green spaces will be covered by the new public space protection orders (PSPOs).
The council says it is currently “relatively powerless” to deal with trouble-makers who urinate in public, cause distress to others, bring in catapults or damage wildlife.
With the new powers, which were agreed upon by councillors on the community committee on Wednesday, the authority will be able to fine yobs.
While the idea of clamping down on anti-social behaviour has been strongly welcomed in a public consultation, the council’s plan to outlaw barbecues and glass bottles has received a mixed response - with less than half of respondents wanting them banned.
Former police officer Cllr Ashley Clark said: “They are a nuisance, and we want to make our parks and local nature reserves safer places for everyone to enjoy.
“It’s not about killing fun, it’s about protection.
“People fail to realise the huge amount of problems caused by glass bottles - there aren’t issues with mayonnaise jars.
“Thousands of bottles have ended up in the Stour over the years, and others end up broken and left in grass where children play.
“We want a firm message with signs at all our parks warning everyone that if they bring in bottles and barbecues, they will be fined.
“Bringing in cans of beer isn’t something I would encourage. But if people do use cans instead it is far less problematic.
“You can crush cans, pick them up and put them in the bin or take them home.”
Riding e-scooters in the green spaces is also set to become illegal as part of the crackdown.
The ongoing Bird trial has seen riders take their electric-powered vehicles through some of the city’s parks, yet when the ban is introduced, they will face the threat of a £100 fine should they do so.
Cllr Clark says the PSPOs are not a money-making exercise for the council, but instead a staunch method of changing people’s attitudes.
“If we don’t fine anybody but change behaviour, I would be overjoyed,” he said.