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Oxford City Council to attempt begging ban in city centre

image captionCampaigners say the council should focus on finding ways to help vulnerable people

Controversial plans to ban begging and busking in central Oxford are being considered again by the city council.

Councillors are being asked to vote for a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) at a council meeting on 15 October.

Campaign group Liberty had previously threatened to challenge the scope of such an order in court.

Green councillor David Thomas said: "Somebody who is on drugs and begging is not a criminal, those people are victims."

Leader of Labour-controlled Oxford City Council, Bob Price, said the authority did not propose to fine beggars, but force them instead to seek professional help for drug and alcohol addiction through magistrates' courts.

He said the order covered a wide range of anti-social behaviour and was designed to make the area "safe and welcoming" for the public.

Liberty previously said the council would be unfairly targeting those in poverty if it fined persistent beggars, and also stated Oxford City Council had failed to make its case for needing these powers.

The council's own eight-week public consultation revealed the majority of responders had not been adversely affected by persistent begging, sleeping in toilets or busking.

Mr Thomas added: "Further punishing these people is not going to help them rebuild their lives."

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