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, Liberty’s Legal Officer, Liberty’s 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?
Ms Brighouse said:
“This is a staggering example of the misuse of a Public Space Protection Order – so vaguely worded it’s impossible for anybody to know whether they’re in danger of breaking the law.
Liberty’s 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.