HUMAN rights group Liberty has written to Newport City Council to demand that it abandons plans it says are a major threat to civil liberties and affront to the city's Chartist legacy.

The group was responding to a consultation on a public spaces protection order (PSPO) , which closed yesterday

The plan has already probed controversial for its proposed blanket ban on rough sleeping and begging.

It also asked residents whether they thought matters like fly-posting, and charity canvassing should be allowed in the city centre.

In its consultation paper, the authority expresses “a view to introducing a new and updated PSPO in time for the opening of the Friars Walk retail development in November 2015”.

The new retail park will include artwork commemorating the Chartists’ struggle, along with an engraving of the People’s Charter.

Human rights group Liberty says the PSPO would, if implemented, go against what the Chartists campaigned for.

Rosie Brighouse, legal officer for Liberty, said: “These proposals make a mockery of Newport’s Chartist legacy.

“For the sake of a new shopping centre, the council is pouring its energies into criminalising the most vulnerable in the city, and silencing means of dissent.

“This PSPO won’t house people, move them on, or help resolve their homelessness in any other way – it will simply fine them for their extreme poverty.

“We urge the council in the strongest terms to reconsider these utterly shameful plans.”

Newport East AM candidate, Paul Halliday has accused the council of using “big bully-boy tactics” in an attempt to tackle homelessness ahead of the opening of Friars Walk on November 12.

Mr Halliday, who was awarded the Newport extra mile award by the council for service to disadvantaged people in 2012, said: “This whole thing is simply about cleaning up the streets before Friars Walk. Clearly, it’s more about presentation than about helping people.

“What they need is help and support; what we don’t do is demonise them and treat them like criminals. The support structures for rough sleeping are city centre based, it makes sense.

“This is not about political point scoring, it’s where my heart is. If you don’t look after the decent in society, how can we call ourselves a decent society?”

A spokeswoman for Newport City Council said: “In relation to rough sleeping, the council remains committed to working with other local service board partners in Newport to address the underlying needs of those affected in this way.

“Any prohibition within the PSPO relating to this activity would (if approved) simply make it unlawful to sleep rough in the city centre; it would not ban homeless people from the city centre or prevent them from gaining access to night shelters within this area.

“The night time safety of both the homeless and local residents is paramount."