Mothers and fathers on the school run could be targeted by new powers given to local authorities to clamp down on anti-social behaviour, campaigners against heavy regulation have warned.
Councils and other authorities will be able to issue Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) from October 20, which the Manifesto Club claims could be used to restrict public freedom.
Drawing on council meeting reports and interviews with local authorities, the group has warned in a new report that councils plan to use PSPOs to criminalise a wide range of activities such as restricting inappropriate dress, including on stag and hen dos, banning parking outside schools and even clamping down on charity collections.
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Busking, begging, rough sleeping and street drinking could all be restricted and bans on skateboarding or ball games could also be enforced, it claims.
Manifesto Club director Josie Appleton said: "The possibilities for the use of these powers are endless - even some local authorities are complaining that the guidance is too vague.
"PSPOs amount to a blank cheque for councils to ban anything that is unusual or unpopular, or with which officials disagree.
"A particular danger is that these orders can be directly targeted at vulnerable groups such as the homeless or young people."
Public Spaces Protection Order powers are contained in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.
Statutory guidance was published in July but the Manifesto Club warned it does little to protect public freedoms.
Liberal Democrat peer Timothy Clement-Jones, who is seeking to exempt busking from PSPOs, said: "The Manifesto Club has identified some very important weaknesses in the Guidance on PSPOs.
"We were assured that PSPOs would not be used to restrict busking. Yet, just at a time when there is a major initiative by the London Mayor and others to encourage legitimate busking, the spectre of PSPOs being used in a heavy-handed way has emerged.
"These are very wide-ranging powers and it is vital that it is made very clear to local authorities that they should have proper grounds for invoking them."
The Manifesto Club called on the public to be on 'high alert' after the enactment of these powers.
In its report, it said: "PSPOs come with so few consultation requirements or means of appeal that the public should be on high alert this autumn.
"Until formal checks and balances can be obtained, the main recourse against the over-use of these powers is likely to be in online petitions, Facebook groups and letters to the local paper."Subscribe to our Newsletter