This paper explores some of the more extreme tendencies in the management of public space to consider whether current policy directions, in this case in central Scotland, are driven by a desire to empower or control users of such spaces. The title of the paper is taken from the theoretical lenses provided by Neil Smith and Sharon Zukin in their differential views on trends in the management and control of public spaces. The paper focuses on two local case studies to examine the possibility that a ‘revanchist’ element is emerging in policies towards public spaces in Britain. The paper concludes that programmes designed to deal with urban and public space are a reaction to both real and perceived problems. However, there has been a privileging of a policy discourse which celebrates the displacement of social problems rather their resolution. It is argued that such a discourse cannot ultimately provide sustainable policies for the regulation of public spaces and threatens the inclusion of some users of public spaces who may not be considered to be legitimate patrons. While this does more to foster fearful than inclusive public spaces, a thorny question remains over whether some degree of exclusion is a necessary price for policies which seek to secure public space and maintain a wider quality of life.