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Chester Council hunts for artists who used city benches to make a statement

Two Chester street artists have used the city’s benches to protest against the local Council’s “draconian” plans to introduce a Public Space Protection Order.

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While humorous in tone, the plaques had a serious purpose: to raise awareness of the plight of the city’s homeless.

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Another plaque read: “If you shut your eyes for more than 10 seconds whilst on this bench, you may be deemed asleep, and risk facing an ASBO. By Order of Public Space Protection Orders under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.”

The Council has now removed the plaques and is keen to track down the rebellious artists. “Some people may find them offensive,” Maria Byrne, head of place operations for Cheshire West and Chester Council, told The Chester Chronicle. “It has cost the Council taxpayer money for officers to locate and remove them. If anyone knows who is responsible we would like to hear from them.”

“This was all done in good grace and with no malice or thought of financial gain,” said one of the unidentified street artists. “We just hope the residents and visitors of Chester enjoyed them while they could.”

The proposed Public Space Protection Order aims to address antisocial behaviour issues that are having an impact on residents, businesses and visitors across Chester city centre. These include legal highs, street drinking, rough sleeping, begging, busking and feeding birds. Cabinet member for children and families, Nicole Meardon, previously said the aim is to ensure everyone can enjoy public spaces.

Over 17,000 people have signed two online petitions against the plans, amid fears the city’s homeless and most socially vulnerable would suffer.

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