Breckland communities will be consulted on legislation which will give more powers to tackle anti-social behaviour

Thetford town centre. Picture: Rebecca Murphy

Thetford town centre. Picture: Rebecca Murphy - Credit: Archant

Communities in Breckland will be consulted on the use of legislation which will give the district council more powers to deal with a wider range of anti-social behaviour in town centres.

Councillor John Newton. Picture: Studio Five

Councillor John Newton. Picture: Studio Five - Credit: Archant

Currently, Designated Public Place Orders (more commonly known as alcohol exclusion zones) are in place in Thetford; Watton; Swaffham; Dereham, and Attleborough.

But under new legislation, these orders will automatically become Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) in October 2017.

The PSPOs allow the council to be more flexible with what is categorised as anti-social behaviour and how it is dealt with.

Breckland Cabinet members voted to consult with local communities to get the views of local residents, police and town councils, and put in place wider powers if these are needed.

Thetford will be the first town to take part in the consultation - which is believed to begin in a few months time.

District and Thetford town councillor John Newton said he was pleased the town has been chosen to lead the consultation because anti-social behaviour is a 'major issue'.

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He said: 'From the public's point of view, they cannot wait for this. The number of complaints [in reference to anti-social behaviour] has been enormous.'

Mr Newton said he has a petition with 216 individual signatures from people who say they are upset with drinking in the town centre, people urinating on buildings and generally causing a nuisance.

He added: 'What people are concerned about is when they are making their way home and get to a group of six to eight hanging about and drinking in a specific part of the town.

'It makes people quite apprehensive and it is not nice for the elderly.'

Councillor Paul Claussen, Breckland Council executive member for place, said: 'Those living and working in our market towns have the best on-the-ground knowledge of what is happening there.

'They know where, when and what the problems are and we are keen to use their knowledge to develop PSPOs that will help address local issues.'

More information about the consultations will be provided in the future.