Council threatens Tesco with new-look ASBO

Cambridge store grounds strewn with litter

Updated: 
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A Tesco store has been warned that it may be issued with a new-style ASBO after councillors complained about its failure to deal with litter.

The store, in Cambridge, may be issued with the Community Protection Notice (CPN) - formerly known as an Antisocial Behaviour Order (ASBO) - under new powers granted to Cambridge City Council, Peter Roberts of the council's Waste, Environment & Public Health department, said in a meeting.

"Tesco in Abbey has had a new fence and it's basically just rammed with rubbish," he said.

"We've asked several times they clean their ground as part of the agreement they have with us as the city authority, and they continually, despite their claims otherwise, carry on just leaving it."

Tesco says it is working with the council to make sure the rubbish is cleared. "Contractors will be visiting the site shortly to undertake the necessary works and we will continue to monitor the situation on an ongoing basis," it tells Metro.

CPNs, which have replaced ASBOs, can be issued by local authorities, police and social landlords to prevent behaviour that harms the community. If breached, they attract a two-year prison sentence for adult individuals or a £20,000 fine for businesses.

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"I hope the expanded enforcement team will look at using their increased resources to talk more to businesses, all kinds of businesses where we have similar problems, and if they persistently ignore us, use this power more widely than just Tesco," commented councillor George Owers.

The new CPNs were introduced earlier this year under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. They can be issued against anyone aged 10 or older who has "engaged or threatens to engage in conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person". However, like the public space protection orders introduced at the same time, they have been criticised for potentially banning more or less anything.

As Lord Macdonald, formerly the director of public prosecutions, has pointed out, "it is difficult to imagine a broader concept than causing 'nuisance' or 'annoyance'. The phrase is apt to catch a vast range of everyday behaviours to an extent that may have serious implications for the rule of law".

Still, few will argue with a measure that forces Tesco - voted the UK's least popular supermarket in a Which? poll last year - to clean up its act. "Tesco, to me, are the only organisation or business in Cambridge who persistently allow this to happen on their grounds and never clean it up," says Owers.


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