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Peterborough council backs down on illegal cycling penalty - after it discovers it doesn't have the power

Currently, only police can hand out the £100 fines

Council officers at Peterborough City Council have backed down on threats to hand out fixed penalty notices to cyclists in Bridge Street, after discovering only police officers can enforce the law.

Council leader Councillor John Holdich had said that all council staff would have the power to give out the fines to cyclists in the pedestrian area, but as it is in fact a road traffic offence, they do not have the power to do so.

The council is now attempting to have the rules changed.

A council spokesman told Peterborough Today: “Initially, only warranted police officers within the PES [Prevention and Enforcement Service] will have the power to fine cyclists on Bridge Street and will work alongside council officers.

“This is because cycling on Bridge Street is currently classified as a road traffic offence. The process is well underway to change this order to allow any PES officer to enforce the cycling ban on Bridge Street.”

We recently reported how a new order which came into effect at the start of August could see cyclists fined up to £1,000 for riding through Mansfield town centre. The public spaces protection order (PSPO) was unanimously backed by all 31 councillors present at a Mansfield District Council meeting.

The legislation also covers spitting, smoking in children's play areas and a ban on the supply of legal highs. Dogs must also put their dog on a lead when instructed to do so and owners are obliged to carry poo bags.

Councillor Mick Barton, portfolio holder for public protection, said that the new powers would enable the council to tackle such issues and make Mansfield a more welcoming place.

“We want people to feel safe and secure in Mansfield and we believe the vast majority of people will be supportive of these measures and will abide by them. The issue of people riding their bicycles in the pedestrianised areas in Mansfield has been a long-standing problem, with complaints raised by members of the public and market traders.”

Council wardens will be able to issue £100 fixed penalty notices and if the offender is taken to court, they could be hit with a fine of up to £1,000.

There will be a three month ‘grace period’ where new powers are being introduced during which police and wardens will warn offenders rather than issuing a fine.

And just this week criticisms over controversial town-centre cycling bans under the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) banner were voiced again, this time in Bedford.

This time, though, the complaints have not come from cyclists opposing the order which criminalises cycling, rather pedestrians have complained that the bans aren't solving the problem.

Since the ban was introduced in April, 32 fines have been issued to cyclists - dubbed "inconsiderate individuals" by a council spokeswoman - caught cycling on the protected roads in the town centre.

This isn't enough though, according to some residents one of whom speculated that there are at least 100 individuals cycling illegally on the town's pedestrian areas per week.

Bedford resident Graham Wright said that he saw four cyclists riding through the pedestrianised town centre on his last two-hour visit.

"That is the equivalent of almost 100 transgressors every week," Mr Wright said. "And this number ignores those I see cycling on the pavement on my way into town.

"Policies need to be enforced otherwise they are irrelevant."

Not everyone shares Mr Wrights views that these policies need to be enforced. Following the introduction of a similar ban in Mansfield national cycling charity Cycling UK, in association with the Cyclists' Defence Fund, issued a statement over this criminalisation of cycling.

Duncan Dollimore of Cycling UK equated the PSPOs to geographically definied ASBOs and expressed his incredulity that these orders were being used to "restrict the use of public space and criminalise behaviour not normally regarded as illegal... [like] the pernicious pastime which undermines the very fabric of our society: cycling."


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