Harrow Council will clarify new rules in the town centre aimed at curbing anti-social behaviour after concerns they could unfairly impact charity workers and religious groups.

The implementation of a public spaces protection order (PSPO) in Harrow town centre was approved by the council’s cabinet in May, which seeks to tackle issues such as playing music or distributing leaflets without permission.

However, the decision was called-in for a review after it was suggested it would go against national rules which permit the free distribution of material “on behalf of a charity, or for political or religious purposes”.

This is outlined on the Government’s website, alongside the acknowledgment that individual local authorities have the powers to manage the distribution of free newspapers and promotional material.

Despite the concerns raised, the call-in sub-committee on Monday (June 14) unanimously agreed the council’s cabinet’s initial decision should be upheld.

But it added “clarification is needed in areas where exemptions exist by virtues of legislation” – including those referenced by objectors – and this would be “brought to the fore” in the publicity attached to the PSPO.

Cllr Peymana Assad (Lab, Roxeth), who is responsible for crime, community cohesion, and enforcement at Harrow Council, said: “People can still assemble and protest and express freedom of speech – the PSPO does not stop anybody from distributing leaflets.

“We plan to use this month to let people know that charities, political parties, and religious groups are exempt from the leaflet distribution [aspect].”

She added the council is encouraging people to write to it if they intend to distribute other forms of material to encourage the set up of clear-up plans to reduce litter and help mange numbers in the town centre.

The new measures will support the already implemented borough-wide PSPO, which can lead to enforcement action against those caught urinating, defecating, spitting, or drinking alcohol in public.

Under this latest scheme, those caught “amplifying music and voice” without permission or “feeding birds and vermin” in the designated area could be given a fixed penalty notice (FPN).

Council officers can also take action against unlicensed street traders, including people encouraging visitors to sign up for financial agreements, as well as those putting up street furniture without permission.