BEGGARS and homeless people facing the cold this winter could also face the chiliing prospect of a £1,000 fine if they fail to get out of the the city centre when ordered to, under new proposals by Liverpool City Council.

It has launched a consultation for a Public Space Protection Order to give officials the legal power to take action.

But campaigners have hit back with a petition on, claiming the measures will criminalise people for being homeless.

The city council today confirmed it is consulting with the public about the proposed PSPO measure which it set up on October 9.

“The council is considering making a public spaces protection order covering all public places within Liverpool City Centre. The order would ban consumption of alcohol (other than in licensed or authorised premises), touting for licensed premises, begging, taking 'legal highs' and placing or erecting unauthorised structures in public places such as gazebos, tents, tables and chairs, stages, temporary shelters, boxes and crates,” it says in its consultation documents, adding, “This would mean that any person doing any of the above activities would be committing an offence punishable by a fine.”

It defines begging as "making any verbal, non-verbal or written request in order to beg from any other person, including sitting or loitering in a Public Place with any receptacle or item of clothing used to contain monies for the purpose of begging".

The council says it is making the proposals because the council considers that the activities concerned may have a "detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality".

If a person were to breach the order, they would be liable for a fine of up to £1,000. What person, homeless or not, can afford that?

But campaigners hit back saying: “If this goes through it will become illegal to beg anywhere within the city centre. It will also make it illegal to erect gazebos and tables within a public place. This will target the Love Kitchen and others like it which go out of their way to help the homeless on a weekly basis.

"If a person were to breach the order, they would be liable for a fine of up to £1,000. What person, homeless or not, can afford that?” say campaigners in their petition. 

“Fining and persecuting people in lowest socio-economic group, people that have to beg for money and can’t afford food, is only going to worsen the problem - not make things better.

“The orders that the council are trying to introduce directly put people at risk, but our support can stop this from happening. Councils in Oxford, Hackney and Wycombe have tried to introduce similar policies and each time a petition and public pressure has stopped this from happening. With your support we can, together, stop Liverpool City Council from criminalising people in poverty and find solutions to help people rather than persecuting them further.”

The PSPO is still in consultation stages, with people having until November 13 to comment".

A spokesman for the council said: “The results of the consultation will be reported to the council’s cabinet which will decide whether to proceed with the proposed order. If implemented the order will be the subject of further publicity.”

Meanwhile, Manchester City Council last week announced that it will be looking to open empty public buildings as homeless shelters this winter.