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Rules to reduce alcohol-related anti-social behaviour extended

Written by on 27th September 2021

The rules enforcing ‘no alcohol zones’ on the streets of Aberdare and Pontypridd town centres will be extended by three years – after Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet agreed a new Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) having considered feedback from a consultation exercise. 

At the Cabinet meeting on Thursday, September 23, Members considered an Officer report which put forward a proposed commencement date for the new PSPO – October 1, 2021. It follows the expiry of the PSPO which first came into force in September 2018, and was introduced to reduce alcohol-related anti-social behaviour.

Aberdare’s ‘no alcohol zone’ has included the town centre, Sobell site and its playing fields (the Ynys), Aberdare Railway Station and Gadlys Pit Car Park. The zone in Pontypridd has included the town centre, Ynysangharad War Memorial Park, and the railway and bus stations. These zones also apply to the use of intoxicating substances, not just alcohol.

Authorised Officers can therefore request that a person hands over their alcohol and stops drinking if they are causing, or are likely to cause, anti-social behaviour. The maximum penalty for non-compliance is £100.

The PSPO also dedicated all of Rhondda Cynon Taf as a Controlled Drinking Zone to give Authorised Officers powers to control alcohol-related anti-social behaviour across the County Borough.

The PSPO was introduced for an initial three-year period, and has been jointly enforced by the Council and South Wales Police. It was initially promoted by the Council’s ‘Calling Time on Street Drinking’ marketing campaign.

The report to Thursday’s meeting, in recommending a new PSPO for a further three years, also proposed an adjustment to the current Pontypridd zone. This would see the area around the Taff Vale Flats in lower Graig, the area outside of Ty Pennant in Pontypridd, and the grassed underpass area adjacent to Pontypridd Bus Station, included from now on.

Raised by South Wales Police and Local Elected Members, these areas are on the boundaries of the current zone in Pontypridd and have been identified as hot spots for street drinking and substance misuse which would benefit from inclusion.

A public engagement exercise into the PSPO took place in October 2020, carried out predominantly online due to the pandemic. Thursday’s report also includes a summary of the feedback received. In total, 134 questionnaires were completed by members of the public and key stakeholders.

Key findings include that 86% of respondents saw alcohol-related anti-social behaviour as a problem across Aberdare and Pontypridd, and 69% said they were aware of the PSPO in the areas. Also, 54% of the respondents said the PSPO has or is likely to have a positive impact on the quality of life in the County Borough. A full summary of responses is available as an Appendix to Thursday’s Cabinet report.

Cabinet Members agreed with the recommendations of the report – to declare a new PSPO by three years, from October 2021. This includes retaining the Controlled Drinking Zone applying to the whole of Rhondda Cynon Taf, and the ‘no alcohol zones’ for the streets of Aberdare and Pontypridd town centres – with the Pontypridd zone widened to include the three new areas.

Councillor Rhys Lewis, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities, Well-being and Cultural Services, said: “The Public Spaces Protection Order was introduced three years ago to tackle alcohol-related anti-social behaviour, with specific rules targeting Aberdare and Pontypridd Town Centres. The PSPO intends to contribute to our town centres and wider communities being friendly and welcoming places.

“As outlined in the Cabinet report, the PSPO is a useful tool to tackle complex problems such as alcohol-related anti-social behaviour, with the Council having strong established links with South Wales Police and other support agencies in responding to such issues. The RCT Community Safety Team is also in discussion with partners to develop a more streamlined reporting process so it’s easier for the public to report incidents of street drinking. This is a priority issue, to give more confidence to people reporting such incidents.

“Figures show that Aberdare and Pontypridd town centres have still had the highest rates of alcohol-related anti-social behaviour between 2017/18 and 2020/21, even during the length of the current PSPO – suggesting that its retention remains important at this time. It is also important to note that, over the past three years, the vast majority of individuals approached by an authorised officer have complied with the request to stop drinking.

“Having taken into consideration the consultation feedback, the latest data relating to alcohol-related anti-social behaviour, and the proposals to extend the Pontypridd zone to three further areas, Cabinet Members have agreed all Officer recommendations outlined in the report. The PSPO will therefore be implemented over the next three years, from October 2021.”