Devonshire Square was developed in the 1880s. Until 1902 the railway station was located here. It is located within a Conservation Area.
In 2004 various projects came to fruition. The major initiative consisted of a number of traffic management improvements within Bexhill Town Centre, combined with the creation of a piazza and environmental improvements in the Devonshire Square area of the town to make the Town Centre safer and more accessible for pedestrians, as well as a pleasurable place for people to enjoy whether they be residents or visitors. Legally, Devonshire Square remains a public highway comprising a carriageway for vehicles and adjoining paved pedestrian footways.
The law on obstruction of the highway (which includes both the carriageway and pedestrian areas) is set out in Section 137(1) of the Highways to Act 1980, which says: “If a person, without lawful authority or excuse, in any way wilfully obstructs the free passage along a highway he is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale” (currently £1000).
If anybody by the exercise of free will does something which causes an obstruction an offence is committed (Arrowsmith v Jenkins 1963). A man who marched into a “Bull Ring” and there addressed a crowd who had gathered round him was rightly convicted notwithstanding that there was free space for traffic outside the crowd; his action in assembling the crowd was to render the highway less convenient and commodious (Homer v Cadman 1886).
There may be a fine distinction between activities and events which involve obstruction, and those which do not. In certain circumstances a demonstration may be reasonable (Westminster v Haw 2002). If an event, e.g. street theatre is organised, it does not prevent members of the public walking through it; indeed any attempt to stop them would constitute a criminal offence by the organisers.
Temporary Street Closure Orders
The District Council has the authority to issue Temporary Street Closure Orders for street parties, bonfire/fireworks, processions, cultural events etc. under Section 21 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847. Events must not be promoted for private gain. They must be for a genuinely public event. We need at least 12 weeks’ notice. Before the Order is made organisers will be required to produce evidence of insurance to cover public liability up to £5 million. If an order is made it does constitute lawful authority for what would otherwise amount to an obstruction and would prevent people walking through an event.
See Temporary Road Closures for more details.
Rother District Council has by resolution designated Devonshire Square and that part of Devonshire Road, between Marina and Parkhurst Road as a consent Street, other streets in the centre of Bexhill have been designated as prohibited streets. The following Policy has been adopted in relation to consents:
Consents would normally only be granted to traders if they are approved by the organizer of an event that is of an educational, cultural nature or that promotes Bexhill (such as the Anglo French Market, Art Festival, Christmas celebrations). The event should be organised by a professional group that does not only operate for pecuniary profit, such as the Bexhill Chamber of Commerce, Bexhill Promotions etc. In addition consents would be granted for any event where a road closure order is made. It would be a condition of every consent that structures etc shall be removed within 2 hours of the termination of the event.
Any person who engages in street trading in a consent street without being authorised to do so is guilty of an offence under paragraph 10 of Schedule 4 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 and shall be liable to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale (currently £1000).
Section 3 of the Vagrancy Act 1824 says: Every person wandering abroad, or placing himself or herself in any public place, street, highway, court, or passage, to beg or gather alms, or causing or procuring or encouraging any child or children so to do; shall be deemed an idle and disorderly person… and may be sentenced to imprisonment for any time not exceeding one calendar month.
An application for a permit to conduct a public charitable collection in the area may be made to the Council by the person or persons proposing to promote that collection. Such a collection without a permit constitutes an offence.
Section 62(1) of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 bans the use of a loudspeaker (including megaphones or other form of amplification) in a street between 2100 and 0800. In addition it is an offence to use loudspeakers in the street for advertising any entertainment, trade or business at any time.
Performance of plays and public entertainment (provision of music and/or dancing)
During 2005: Even if a road closure order has been made then an occasional theatre licence issued by the Council under the Theatres Act 1968may be needed. From November 2005: A premises licence or a temporary event notice must be obtained (Licensing Act 2003).
Byelaws made under section 235 of the Local Government Act 1972 by the Council of Rother District for good rule and government and for the prevention and suppression of nuisances which are particularly relevant to Devonshire Square.
No person shall in any public place skate or ride on rollers, skateboards, wheels or other mechanical contrivances in such a manner as to cause danger or nuisance or give reasonable grounds for annoyance to other persons lawfully using the public place.
Byelaw 3 shall not apply to anything done with the consent of any occupier of the public place.
Noise in streets and other public places
No person in a street or other public place shall, after being requested to desist by a constable, or by any person annoyed or disturbed, or by any person acting on his behalf:
- by shouting or singing;
- by playing on a musical instrument; or
- by operating or permitting to be operated any radio, gramophone, amplifier, tape recorder or similar instrument
Cause or permit to be made any noise which is so loud or so continuous or repeated as to give reasonable cause for annoyance to other persons in the neighbourhood.
This byelaw shall not apply to properly conducted religious services or to any person holding or taking part in any entertainment held with the consent of the Council (e.g. by approving a road closure).
No person shall in any street or public place for the purpose of selling or advertising any article or obtaining custom tout or importune to the annoyance or obstruction of passengers.
No person shall urinate or defecate in any public place.
Any person offending against any of these byelaws shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale (presently £500).