The council will extend controls on alcohol and substance-related anti-social behaviour in public places in Rhondda Cynon Taf for another three years.
A council cabinet meeting on Thursday, September 23, approved the continuation of the Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) covering the whole county borough to control alcohol and intoxicating substance related anti-social behaviour.
It includes two defined exclusion zones to control intoxicating substance use (including alcohol) in public places within Aberdare and Pontypridd town centres.
If approved a new PSPO will be introduced for a three-year period to include the same conditions as the 2018 PSPO with a fine of £100 for breaching it.
They will also be asked to approve alterations to the boundary of the 2018 intoxicating substances zone in Pontypridd to include the area around Taff Vale flats in Lower Graig, the area outside Ty Pennant, Pontypridd, and the underpass area adjacent to Pontypridd bus station.
South Wales Police officers and local councillors have said that although the Pontypridd intoxicating substances exclusion zone encompasses the majority of the town centre area there are locations on the boundaries of the map which have been identified as hotspots for street drinking and substance misuse and would benefit from inclusion in the zone.
In 2018, following consultation, cabinet approved the intoxicating substances (including alcohol) PSPO which designated the whole of Rhondda Cynon Taf as a “controlled drinking zone” and the areas of Aberdare and Pontypridd town centres as designated “intoxicating substances exclusion zones”.
This meant that in the whole of RCT people were not allowed to drink alcohol in a public place if they continue drinking without reasonable excuse or fail to surrender their alcohol when asked to stop by an authorised officer.
In Aberdare and Pontypridd town centres this meant a ban on consuming, ingesting, inhaling, injecting, smoking, or other use of intoxicating substances in a public place.
These areas were chosen because data analysis indicated higher than average levels of alcohol-related anti-social behaviour in the council wards that cover them compared to other wards of RCT and this is still the case with 95 incidents in Aberdare East ward since 2017 and 55 in Pontypridd Town.
The 2018 order was authorised for the maximum three-year period and came to an end on September 1, 2021. The council therefore had to consult on whether a new order was needed.
The report said that the vast majority of people who are approached by an enforcement officer comply with a request to stop drinking and dispose of or hand over intoxicating substances like alcohol.
Because of this the council has only needed to issue 21 fines for breach of the PSPO since 2019.
The report said that the impact of the PSPO on alcohol-related anti-social behaviour incidents to date is difficult to pinpoint.
The number of “all anti-social behaviour” incidents in both Aberdare and Pontypridd town centres did begin to decline steadily from the implementation of the PSPO in 2018 but in 2020-21 penalties for breaching Covid regulations were introduced and these were counted in with the anti-social behaviour figures and that has skewed the figures, the report said.
The number of alcohol related anti-social behaviour incidents in both town centres has reduced overall since the implementation of the PSPO in 2018 from a total of 52 incidents to 29 incidents.
In terms of the consultation on extending the PSPO the report said: “Public perception remains that alcohol consumption in public spaces within RCT is a problem, particularly in the two principal town centres of Aberdare and Pontypridd. Misuse of other substances is also reported.
“There is public support for retaining PSPO restrictions within the borough and in the town centres of Aberdare and Pontypridd with the majority of respondents agreeing that the PSPO will have a positive impact on both town centre.”
Councillor Rhys Lewis said the PSPO was very much data-led and that this is the right time to review it. He said the data supports an extension to the Pontypridd exclusion zone and said it is “key that businesses residents and visitors have confidence in the PSPO”.
He also said that strengthening links with the police was key and it was “really important people have the confidence to report”.
Councillor Jayne Brencher, who represents the Graig ward on RCT Council, said issues were having a detrimental effect on people’s quality of life and the new developments in the town can be undermined by the reality and also the perception of anti-social behaviour. She said the Lower Graig exclusion zone is “extremely important” and is going to be effective.
She said they should look at the reporting process as there are concerns that there are more problems but people are no longer reporting them and it is becoming “normalised”. She said the PSPO should be used as part of a wider package of measures to understand the root cause of the issues.
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