NEW legislation which has been drawn up to continue reducing forms of antisocial behaviour across Barnsley is set to clamp down on deliberate fires being started due to rising incidents, the Chronicle can reveal.
A public space protection order (PSPO) was first brought in across the town centre and some residential streets in 2016 - effectively banning offenders from entering the area - but it’s since been adapted to include issues with dogs, such as fouling and requiring pets to be kept on leads in certain areas.
According to a council report, a new PSPO - which will come into force next year - will focus on preventing deliberate fire-starting in public places such as parks.
As well as needless arson attacks - which South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and National Trust bosses say remain a potentially deadly worry - the town’s scourge of littering is also a key part of the revised legislation which can result in fines and court action being pursued.
It is set to be discussed by Barnsley Council’s ruling cabinet members on October 20, according to a report.
It said: “The report seeks authority to enter into a period of statutory consultation with regards to the introduction of a new public space protection order.
“If approved, the purpose of this would be to reduce the risk of fires in the borough, and to reduce the incidence of litter.”
Fire crews from the town’s stations have attended almost 250 deliberate incidents across May, June and July.
However, although that represents a significant reduction on previous years’ figures for the three-month summer period, the Chronicle understands high-profile blazes on moorland near Dunford Bridge in recent years have encouraged environment bosses to act.
South Yorkshire Police - cited as a ‘key partner’ of the council’s in the enforcement of the PSPO which has been hailed as a success - will focus on current aspects of the long-standing order, which covers Peel Street, Midland Street, Peel Square, Wellington Street, Eldon Street, Race Street, Peel Parade, Sackville Street, Market Hill and County Way in the town centre.
The National Trust - which owns land hit by fires such as the one at Dunford Bridge which stretched to the Kirklees border - backed the council’s plan.
A spokesperson added: “Nearly all moorland fires are started by people, either by litter, dropped cigarettes, barbecues or deliberately.
“The deterrent for this behaviour is not enough - as a community, we are collectively devastated by our surroundings and wildlife being abused this way and would like to see much harsher penalties and policing of this issue nationwide in open moorland.
“The PSPO, used alongside education and information, helps us to significantly reduce the number of fires.
“They not only cause large-scale destruction but also needlessly endanger people and put a strain on already stretched services.”