THE MARKET Arcade in central Newport should continue to close at night to prevent anti-social behaviour and other crime, according to the city council.
A Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) was imposed on the arcade, in High Street, in 2020 after reports it was being “used as a toilet” and attracting property damage, graffiti, and drug dealing and taking.
The council deemed that order “very successful” in helping police stamp out those problems, and metal gates installed at the arcade’s entrances stopped troublemakers gaining access.
But PSPOs can only be imposed for three years at a time, and the council must now decide whether to continue closing the Market Arcade overnight or to remove the gates that prevent access outside of business hours.
Built in 1869 and originally known as Fennell’s Arcade, the thoroughfare links the north end of High Street to Market Street.
According to Newport City Council, the arcade “declined over time” but recent renovation has been extensive and it now features proudly in a regenerated part of the centre which also includes the Newport Arcade and the Indoor Market – both of which have also undergone major facelifts in the past couple of years.
The desire to protect this part of the city centre is driving the council’s plan to renew the PSPO, but any decision must wait for a public consultation and the approval of councillors.
Ahead of any consultation, the council acknowledges that “anti-social behaviour remains a risk” within central Newport, and the city centre is covered by its own PSPO.
“It is considered that without the gates, the problems encountered previously that led to the introduction of PSPO [and] gates would return, and those problems that persist in the city centre in the evenings and at night, would extend into the arcade,” a council report reads.
The proposed renewal would likely earn the backing of “all stakeholders”, according to the report, which recommends that a renewed PSPO should include punishments of fines up to £1,000 for people who breach it.
Councillor James Clarke, the cabinet member for strategic planning, is expected to approve a public consultation on the renewal at the beginning of September.
Consultees will include ward councillors, the police and fire service, and local businesses.
Members of the public will also be invited to have their say on the PSPO renewal plan.