ITV Granada said:A council has been slammed for trying to outlaw swearing in the streets at a posh docklands development in Salford.
Salford council has brought in a Public Space Protection Order to cover the Quays area in a bid to curb anti-social behaviour.
Part of the order says it will be deemed a criminal offence if anyone is caught using foul and abusive language,
But the order fails to give any guidance on which words will be considered foul and abusive enough to constitute a criminal offence.
Anyone breaching the conditions faces an on-the-spot fine.
It could be bad news for disgruntled Manchester United fans on their way back from Old Trafford - thousands use The Quays as a walking route to and from the ground.
Also comedian Mark Thomas is performing at The Lowry arts centre and has prepared a list of words he intends to use which he is sending to the council - to see if they breach the order.
And now leading human rights group Liberty has written to Salford council saying the move risks breaching right to freedom of expression.
Liberty says the order could have a chilling effect on freedom of expression.
However, Salford council have hit back saying they are only attempting to help Salford residents whose lives are being made a misery by anti-social behaviour.
The PSPO was introduced in August 2015 and covers an area of the Quays.
In the letter to City Director Jim Taylor, Libertys Legal Officer, Libertys Rosie Brighouse has requested clarification on four points.
Does the language have to be both foul and abusive to breach the PSPO, or is its purpose to ban both language that is foul but not abusive, and language that is abusive but not foul?
What is the difference between language that is foul and language that is abusive?
What legal test will be applied to determine whether language is foul and/or abusive?
If someone uses foul and/or abusive language in the area covered by the PSPO, but there is no one present to hear it, will that amount to a criminal offence?
LIBERTYS ROSIE BRIGHOUSE
Ms Brighouse said:
This is a staggering example of the misuse of a Public Space Protection Order so vaguely worded its impossible for anybody to know whether theyre in danger of breaking the law.
The right to say what we want should not be restricted at the whim of council officials, able to issue fixed penalty notices on the basis of a poorly defined legal order. Without the freedom to offend, real freedom of expression cannot exist.
Liberty is concerned that, in its current vaguely worded form, the Order will have a chilling effect on artistic performers and political activists in the Salford Quays area which encompasses the renowned Lowry theatre.
LIBERTYS ROSIE BRIGHOUSE
Libertys letter says comedian and activist Mark Thomas, with whom Liberty is working on this issue, will perform at the venue next week and intends to encourage his audience to join him in a number of artistic and political activities after the show in the area outside.
Mr Thomas is concerned that he is unable to predict whether he or any audience member will be in breach of the PSPO and therefore committing a criminal offence by participating in his planned activities.
A spokesman for Salford City Council said:
"We will discuss Liberty's concerns privately with them and make sure nothing interferes with Mr Thomas's artistic performance.
"Liberty are fully aware that breach of a PSPO is only an offence if a person does a prohibited act without a reasonable excuse. That allows all the circumstances to be taken into account. I appreciate Liberty want publicity for their campaign against these orders but Salford City Council is not going to apologise for using national legislation to help Salford residents when their lives are being made a misery by anti-social behaviour.
"This order was introduced last summer after complaints from local residents about anti-social behaviour, including people throwing wheelie bins into the Quays and tampering with emergency life saving equipment.
"Over 130 local residents responded to the consultation about whether to introduce this order. Of those 76% were in favour of the order and 94% agreed with a ban on causing general disturbance including being abusive to other persons, using foul language, being rowdy and inconsiderate."
SALFORD CITY COUNCIL
I guess that would mean banning the filming of the Jeremy Kyle show there.