Council says 'enough is enough' over public sex and antisocial behaviour in Essex town centre

People defecating and having sex in Braintree's public spaces have been warned “enough is enough" as the council starts proceedings to bring in powers to tackle anti-social behaviour impacting the viability of businesses. Braintree Council wants to introduce public space protection orders which allow on-the-spot fines, following ongoing anti-social behaviour issues in the town centre over the last four years.

Reports of drunkenness leading to distress, nuisance or annoyance and aggressive begging as well as threatening, disorderly, abusive, aggressive and unacceptable behaviour have been received. The council says there have also been reports of people carrying out sexual acts, flashing intimate body parts and going to the loo in public. There has also been verbal and racial abuse and incidents of criminal damage. The council has said the behaviour, which numerous interventions have failed to stop is holding back businesses' ability "to thrive".

Councillor Mary Cunningham, cabinet member for stronger communities, said at cabinet on Monday, May 20: "Braintree town centre has suffered for several years from unacceptable behaviour, including the consumption of alcohol, aggressive begging, threatening and disorderly behaviour. And despite a number of interventions being delivered by both the council and their partners the behaviour continues and impacts on the council's business, local businesses and residents and those visiting the town centre.

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"Through the community safety partnership, we have carried out and introduced a range of interventions with an aim of alleviating the issues. While these have had some positive results they have not solved the problem."

She added: “The introduction of a PSPO is Braintree Council, the police, businesses and residents saying enough is enough, this needs to be dealt with."

A 28-day consultation is now set to be launched before a final decision to implement the order comes back to the council. Councillor Richard van Dulken said: "It's sad that it has come to this but something should happen.

"We have a small but promising increase in the number of higher class and better class establishments that are trying to to make a go of it in our town which one would think or hope would not attract the heavy drinkers and the other people who are causing trouble. And if nothing is done to make the centre of Braintree a reasonably pleasant environment then these businesses are not going to thrive."

The draft order adds that a person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £1,000.