Define anti-social before fines kick in

Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

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None of us wants to live and work in a filthy, stinking city, peppered with old tin cans, fast food wrappers and old sofas, unless of course you are a student.

The majority of us don’t enjoy playing games like dodge the drunk in Cathedral Square, or pass the illegally parked Passatt, on Lincoln Road, either.

So the news that the city council is finally doing something about anti-social behaviour in this city should be welcomed, once of course we agree on what anti-social behaviour actually is.

Before the newly suited and booted, “highly visible” (bright pink uniforms should be standard issue) “Safety Enforcement Team” hit the streets in April, armed with their big pad of money-making tickets, we need to establish some ground rules here.

Council leader, John Holdich, claims a crackdown on anti-social behaviour will “put the pride back into our city,” but not, I would argue, if we target the wrong people.

It would not make me “proud” to witness the homeless being given tickets this winter, for daring to ask those that can afford it, for a little bit of help.

Being made homeless is not a crime the last time I looked and if it is, then surely it is society that should be in the dock, not the person sleeping on the pavement and scavenging for food in dustbins.

If there was more help, more homes and more sympathy, then perhaps people wouldn’t be forced to sink to this level.

When I see men and women living on the street I don’t view them as a blight that needs to be cleared or a nuisance that has to be dealt with, instead I see a person, a human being, a figure that could easily be you or I, with just the right 
amount of bad luck and misfortune.

How would giving a ticket to a homeless person, begging for money, help them in any way? A roof, a bowl of soup or a reason to live, might be a better idea.

Equally, attacking the cyclists, who flout the cycling ban on Bridge Street is another waste of time and resources – And that’s official!

I have a copy of a letter from Cambridgeshire Police which questions the need for the ban and goes on to say that they support the lifting of it.

They claim that is also virtually unenforceable too, given the large of amounts of cyclists who currently ignore it. Yet despite this, they state that there has not been a single injury accident, caused by a cyclist, in the last five years!

In short there is virtually no risk to the public - Cyclists and pedestrians, it seems, are getting along rather famously on Bridge Street, whilst quietly ignoring the law.

Whilst I don’t obviously condone law breaking, I do foresee big problems here for the new S.E.T. Team – Just how are they going to stop people on bikes who don’t want to be stopped?

This team of ticker tape police will have no powers of arrest and I can’t see how waving a pad of tickets at a fourteen year-old, on a BMX, is going to do stop him pulling a wheelie and flicking you the middle finger.

Perhaps they will have to resort to laying carpet tacks in front of the Town Hall or tempting former council leader, Marco Cereste, out of retirement and returning him to coffee shop cycle 
patrol.

Or maybe they should just employ some good old fashioned common sense – That might do the trick.