RULES aimed at stopping anti-social behaviour in Swindon’s central shopping district are being flagrantly breached on a daily basis, traders say.

A prohibition zone in the town centre aims to stop cycling, begging, drinking, skateboarding and dogs being let off their leads. Under the Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) they can be given a £100 fixed penalty, which, if not paid, could result in court fees of up to £1,000.

Swindon Borough Council and InSwindon, a BID company which supports and represents traders, have been reminding visitors about the rules.

However a trader on Market Street, which falls within the zone, spoke to us as he looked out of his window at street drinkers swigging from cans outside the former Tented Market. They moved on of their own accord around half an hour later.

Asked if the order was being enforced, the trader replied: “In a word, no. There are street drinkers. We had an incident here only yesterday. The street team are slow to respond.”

The trader, who asked not to be named, works close to Wharf Green, where cyclists and skateboarders were also found to be breaking the rules last Thursday and Friday.

Vince Ayris, a trophy maker and engraver in Havelock Street, said: “The rules are not enforced. I try and get them enforced by dialling 101 three or four times a day when there are people drinking and spitting, swearing and shouting outside. The police are supportive but there have been cut back and they can’t be in two places at once, while the InSwindon Street Ambassadors have been seen just walking past beggars. I would always buy a meal and a cup of tea for a homeless person who needs it, but some of them are turning up from out of town.

“Signs have been put up about the rules but what’s the point in introducing them if they are not enforced? It’s frustrating as we all want a safer, more pleasant shopping experience.”

Video supplied to the Adver showed a man in Havelock Street openly drinking strong lager while sitting on a bench, with another can in plain sight by his feet.

Tina Vogel, of the Lanterns Cafe, which is also in the prohibition zone, echoed traders’ concerns. “The rules are absolutely not enforced,” she said. “People are out drinking and cycling through the town centre all the time. It’s a nuisance and I don’t know why it’s so difficult to stop.

“There are also people out shouting, swearing and begging from people. We have elderly customers who find it intimidating and it puts them off coming into town.”

Two cyclists on Friday were in no hurry as they swerved across the pedestrianised streets, made a pass at a woman leaving a shop and shouted to friends as they made their way from Wharf Green into the shopping area.

Just outside the zone, a Deliveroo cyclist pedalled along the pavement on Commercial Road, while in Regent Street a beggar who gave his name his Bobby said he was unaware of the rules, which have been fixed to posts around the town centre.

Beggars are not allowed to ask for cash in a way which causes “nuisance or annoyance” to the public or businesses, according to the order, giving them some leeway if they sit quietly.

Bobby said: “I’m sleeping in a tent, I’ve got no housing benefit and I’ve got liver disease. I’ve got no choice but to be here.”

Asked about the traders’ concerns, a spokesman for Swindon Borough Council said that the InSwindon BID Street Team Ambassadors had been out last week reminding visitors to the central shopping streets about appropriate behaviour. The team handed out leaflets and offered advice about the order, which was introduced more than two years ago.

No fines have been issued as every individual approached under the ‘warning and informing’ policy stopped their activity, which included 31 cases of begging and 21 of alcohol in January.

Di Powell, chief executive of town centre BID company InSwindon, said: “For some time now businesses, shoppers and visitors have experienced incidents of anti-social behaviour, which is having a detrimental effect on our town centre. It is a priority to make sure we have a safe and welcoming town centre, where everyone can relax and enjoy themselves. By working together to implement the PSPO, we can create a vibrant town centre where visitors value it as a destination of choice.”