It’s a cushy beat if you can get it: The Council has introduced a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) in the area around High Force, Low Force and Gibson’s Cave
As part of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and UNESCO Global Geopark, they are designated sites of special scientific interest.
Following extensive consultation, which strongly supported the PSPO, the council hopes the measure will help protect the landscape after a large influx of visitors in recent years.
Cllr John Shuttleworth, Cabinet member for highways, rural communities and community safety, said: “While the majority of visitors are well behaved, an increase in anti-social behaviour by a minority of people is impacting on the environment and spoiling the enjoyment of the area for others.
“We hope the new PSPO powers will encourage people to enjoy these beautiful locations safely and responsibly and help us to protect them for generations to come.”
Issues have included problems with alcohol and substance use, leaving litter and waste, the irresponsible use of barbecues, graffiti and jumping from cliffs and bridges.
The PSPO is enforceable between 1 April and 30 September each year, for the next three years.
During those dates, it is an offence to:
- continue to drink alcohol when asked to stop
- be under the influence of controlled drugs
- light a fire or barbecue
- behave in a way that causes or is likely to cause harassment, obstruction or concern for safety to others, including congregating in a group
- threaten and/or abuse people
- throw objects which can cause damage, nuisance, or injury to any person, animal or structure
- camp or sleep overnight
Where the PSPO is breached, designated council officers and Durham Constabulary staff will be able to issue a Fixed Penalty Notice, with failure to pay leading to prosecution.
Cllr Mark Wilkes, Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and climate change, said: “There is so much to see and do in County Durham and it is important that everyone can use and enjoy our public spaces safely and free from anti-social behaviour.
“It is also important that we all do more to protect our communities and environments. That’s why the PSPO is just one measure we’ll be taking to encourage responsible behaviour. We will also be continuing to work with our partners to increase security and monitoring, as well as helping to further educate people about the dangers of anti-social behaviour.”
Meanwhile, a PSPO has also been renewed in Durham City, banning the consumption of alcohol in specific parts of the city centre.
The measure first came into force in 2019 and, following consultation, has been extended for a further three years until 30 June 2025.
More information about the new enforcement powers in Teesdale can be found at www.durham.gov.uk/highforcepspo.