TOUGH powers to crack down on anti-social behaviour in Blackburn town centre are to be beefed up with new bans on begging and going to the toilet in public.

The area will also be extended to cover the adjoining Townsmoor Retail Park.

The existing Public Space Protection Order was one of the first in the country that banned public drinking, taking drugs, including legal highs, in the open and littering.

Now Blackburn with Darwen Council proposes to extend and renew it adding measures to tackle begging, urinating and defecating in public spaces, and reckless use of skateboards, bikes and scooters which has been a problem with youths in Cathedral Square.

The move has been welcomed by Catherine Price, manager of the Blackburn Business Improvement District, and Cllr Paul Marrow, regeneration spokesman for the council’s Conservative Group who questioned the dropping of littering from the previous order.

The original order – introduced after the completion of major improvements to the town centre, including the £34million Cathedral Quarter, new bus station and clergy court – lasted three years and now needs reviewing and replacing.

It gives police and council officers powers to seize ‘intoxicating substances’ and disperse rowdy groups backed by fixed penalty notices of up to £100 with fines of up to £1,000 at the magistrates court.

The existing area stretches from Barbara Castle Way down the Leeds-Liverpool Canal behind the railway station and back up Freckleton Street, Byron Street and Montague Street. The new one includes Townsmoor Retail Park.

Cllr Phil Riley, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s regeneration boss, said: “Everybody understands that we have got rather more houses in multiple occupation in Blackburn than is probably necessary. This means we have more people with few or no resources wandering around the town centre doing things that are not helpful.

“This order is a means of trying to manage that anti-social behaviour. In the past three years its existence had helped do so to a certain extent which is why we are renewing it.

“Begging, the misuse of wheeled conveyances such as skateboards and urinating and defecating in public are new issues which have arisen or grown which is why they have been added to the order.”

His Conservative group shadow Cllr Marrow said: “I am pleased the council is renewing this order. Anti-social behaviour should not be tolerated in Blackburn town centre.

“I welcome the additions but am disappointed they have taken littering off it after so much has been done to tackle it.

“We want our town centres to be a place for people to come and socialise. I think this order has been effective in doing that over the last three years.”

Ms Price, manager of the Blackburn BID, said: “We are very pleased and supportive of the order being renewed.”

Cllr Jim Smith, the councils environment boss, said: “Littering has been removed from the new order because it is not covered by more recent borough-wide powers.”

The council is now consulting on the new order.

A report from the council’s prevention boss Sayeed Osman said: “The order has now expired providing opportunity to see if there is still necessity for such an order and if so what conditions could be applied to help manage any current challenges.

“This process has been completed and further prohibitions have now been put forward that would support agencies to tackle current and future challenges in Blackburn centre to include Townsmoor.

“To date 252 actions have been recorded for anti-social behaviour issues, with 11 community protection warnings presented to adults who have caused anti-social behaviour in the locality. This is in addition to the enforcement specifically targeting around the begging operation.

“The police will be the primary body responsible the application and enforcement of the conditions with council officers “