THE BOLTON News’ special report on how enforcement officers will now issue fines of £100 to those flouting tough new rules to crackdown on anti-social behaviour ­— including aggressive begging and on-street drinking, has provoked a strong reaction on our online pages.

The Public Spaces Protection Order came into force in April and Tuesday marked the start of full enforcement.

The Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) gives the council additional powers to crack down on inconsiderate behaviour such as on-street drinking and aggressive begging.

Town hall chiefs said the crackdown was needed ­— but stressed that help is available for those in genuine need of support.

Poster “Albert Einstein the 3rd” is impressed by the moves.

He wrote: “There have definitely been less beggars recently now the enforcement officers are moving them on. Some do just come straight back though, but it is better than it was.”

But “Breightmet Kid” was less convinced.

“It might work, it probably won’t. There is only one way to shift them, pick 'em up and take them to the town's boundaries. As for drinking on the streets it won’t stop them, they will just move a little further out.”

“Fedupwithbs” reasoned: “Good to see that something is finally being done about this. I mean, if they are truly homeless and hungry, offer to buy them a sandwich but if they only want money, you know they’re only using you to feed their habits. Don’t give them a penny, you only encourage them to come back for more.”

A more sceptical response came from “CallyR”.

She wrote: “So now they’ve all moved to standing at traffic lights just outside the town centre! I went out in town on Friday evening and in the space between Yate’s and Barristers around 8.30pm we had two separate people actually following us asking for money, it’s really working isn’t it?”

The issue is not confined to Bolton according to “duggy1968”.

He said: “It’s the same everywhere. I was in Dublin a few weeks ago. Never seen so may beggars in my life. Everywhere they were. Also was up in Bury at the weekend. Loads of them everywhere. Its not just a Bolton problem.”

“No Snowflake” is concerned about the the effect on visitors to the town, posting: “Now they’re just using Topp Way car park to sleep eat and toilet instead. It’s disgusting and I won’t be going into Bolton again until they’re moved on. It stunk of urine last time I used it and full of fag ends and litter, not to mention faeces in the parking area. If this is the first thing people see when they go into town they won’t come back either.”

Christine Greenhalgh wrote: “It’s about time these new laws came in, these beggars are a nuisance and I am fed up with being approached for money every time I come into the town centre. Last week I was sat on the town hall square enjoying the sunshine and I was asked three times in the space of five minutes for money. Most of them are the same individuals.

“ I hope the new laws will move them from outside shops including Morrisons, Aldi and Home Bargains on Trinity Park and Bradshawgate in the evenings where they pester people trying to enjoy a night out.”

The leader of Bolton Council, Cllr David Greenhalgh, said: “We have a duty of care to the public and we know the level of anti-social behaviour is putting some people off coming into town.

“We want to tackle behaviours which are causing issues for shoppers and businesses.”

Cllr Greenhalgh added: “Fining people is a last resort but everyone should now be fully aware of the new rules, and so now we need a strong deterrent to deal firmly with those causing issues for shoppers and businesses.”

If you want to join the debate why not share your opinion on the Bolton News website?