The people of Chester have begun to notice some unusual plaques and memorials appearing on some of the city’s benches.
A casual inspection by a busy shopper or tourist might make them think nothing untoward is happening, however, for those who take the time to read the messages they are in for a surprise.
Last weekend a couple of pranksters, dressed in the ubiquitous loomy jackets visited Chester with the intention of raising awareness of the plight of the homeless in Chester but more importantly to bring a smile to people’s faces.
A more detailed look would suggest these plaques aren’t as random as they seem. They aim to bring attention to Cheshire West and Chester City Councils proposed Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) which will cover all areas of the city Centre.
One plaque says “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 PSPO aims to tackle antisocial behaviour in the City but so far over 10,000 people have signed various online petitions against the proposals due to fears that such draconian plans would be used to target the homeless and socially vulnerable. For example the PSPO would make it a criminal offence to lie down in a public place or feed the swans on the canal.
Likewise, the diverse nature of Chester’s street performers would also be under threat with buskers forced to play only in designated areas and also to undergo auditions to gain approval from the council to allow them to play in public.
However, for the time being the plaques, dotted around the city centre and by the river should bring a smile to many people’s faces, well until the PSPO bans smiling in a public place too and the council remove them.
But there is a lighter side to the plaques, playing homage to the plight of many a lost soul “This bench is dedicated to the men who lost the will to live whilst following their partners around the shoe shops of Chester”
One of the pranksters said “This was all done in good grace and with no malice or thought of financial gain. We just hope the residents and visitors of Chester enjoy them while they can”