Years of vandalism and intimidation to be tackled
Years of vandalism and intimidation, people urinating and defecating in the drains, and even an incident when a homeless man in his sleeping back was set alight has effectively ceased with the doors of Barnstaple’s historic Pannier Market were slammed shut overnight.
Parts of the Grade I listed building historically had to stay open at night as public rights of way, but last January, North Devon Council successfully applied a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) on the site.
The PSPO lasted for one year and meant the doors will be closed at 6pm each evening and reopened at 5am each morning.
The order is set to run out on January 31, 2019, but North Devon Council, when it meets on Wednesday, January 16, are being recommended to extend the order for the next three years.
The report to councillors says: “The Pannier Market contains a public right of way through the centre of the building, which historically has meant that the whole market hall has been permanently accessible at all hours. This accessibility has enabled anti-social behaviour to occur in the Pannier Market overnight. Such behaviour has included criminal damage, the consumption of alcohol and drugs, littering, urinating, defecating and ball games leading to damage.
“The PSPO enabled the public highway between Butchers Row and Market Street to be closed from 6pm to 5am the following day through the operation of barriers.
“The PSPO has ensured that the anti-social behaviour relating to the Pannier Market has effectively ceased and the proposal is that North Devon Council now makes a PSPO in relation to the Pannier Market for a period of three years, in identical terms.”
Recommending extending the PSPO, it adds: “The PSPO will restrict the gathering of individuals who frequently, by their lifestyle, resort to antisocial activity in the Pannier Market when it is not in operation and will improve the quality of life for all in the vicinity.”
Barnstaple town centre management, the Police and the Pannier Market traders were all in support of making a further order, with the Police raising no concerns with the current order, the report continues.
The report adds: “The absence of opposition to the proposal, with the exception of three negative responses, suggests that the public in general, and stakeholders such as the market traders in particular, are very comfortable with the existence of a new PSPO.
“There is a wider public benefit to preventing the anti-social behaviour occurring in the Pannier Market, as public costs related to the impacts of 24/7 accessibility of the building – policing resources, cleaning, repairs etc – would largely be eradicated.”
Prior to the PSPO being introduced 2018, as the building was accessible at all hours, there was a long history of anti-social behaviour in the building overnight.
The Barnstaple CCTV team and the Pannier Market manager had identified regular instances of drug and alcohol possession and consumption, vandalism and graffiti, arson (in winter 2015 a homeless man in his sleeping bag was set alight by youths), vomit, urination and defecation, on occasion blocking the small drain grates (causing flooding etc), ball games causing damage, and thrown objects causing damage, lights turned on, the electrical system ‘hotwired’, rough sleeping, alarm activation and extensive littering including needles, broken glass.
North Devon Council is recommended to extend the PSPO for a further three years.
The PSPO applies to all persons except to attendees of events operated or authorised by North Devon Council. No person may use the pannier market between 6pm and 5am the next morning for the following purposes:
a. The consumption of alcohol
c. The possession or consumption of controlled drugs, other than under a prescription
d. Behaving in a manner likely to cause intimidation, harassment, alarm or distress
e. Ball games or skateboarding
North Devon Council will secure the pannier market at 6pm each evening and open it at 5am each morning.