Swearing ban proposals for Rochdale dropped

Plans by councillors to ban swearing in Rochdale have been dropped.

Council bosses had wanted to introduce bylaws outlawing foul and abusive language, with a fine of up to £1,000 for anyone caught swearing in the town centre.

But local police advised members of Rochdale Borough Council to drop the swearing ban over "issues with enforcement".

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A council meeting on Tuesday night approved a new Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) to improve the town centre, but without the ban on bad language.

The PSPO comes as part of a crackdown on anti-social behaviour which locals say is hitting trade and putting off visitors.

Under the current order approved on Tuesday there will be a ban on begging, playing loud music, loudly revving car engines, street drinking, "chuggers" - unauthorised charity collections - skateboarding, bikes, scooters and "loitering".

The swearing proposal drew criticism by human rights group Liberty, who described it as a "staggering misuse of power".

And the ban on begging led to claims the council is targeting the most vulnerable.

But a council report said most people currently begging in Rochdale were not homeless and were being offered support.

And a spokesman for Rochdale Borough Council said most people who responded to a consultation on the PSPO plans backed the move.

Councillor Neil Emmott, the council's cabinet member for housing and environment, said: "We are committed to creating a town centre residents can be proud of, somewhere welcoming that they want to visit, spend time in and shop comfortably (in).

"Whilst within the town centre, the experience can often be ruined by a small number of people adopting anti-social or thoughtless behaviour."