ALCOHOL could be banned from Bognor Regis town centre.
The drastic measure is being proposed by Arun District Council to tackle anti-social behaviour in the shopping area. Arun’s cabinet members have decided to consult with their fellow councillors before they agree to recommend a ban.
Figures given to the councillors showed street drinking was behind one in four incidents of anti-social behaviour in the town’s Marine ward.
These complaints concern drunk and disorderly individuals who gather in groups with resulting verbal abuse and sometimes fighting among themselves.
Two town centre district councillors said they backed the ban. Cllr Jim Brooks (I, Marine) said: “I welcome this. I would support a ban. We have tried everything else. We have to do something.”
Cllr Paul Wells (LD, Hotham) said: “We have to give the police more powers to deal with this problem. I would support a ban in the short to medium term.
“But, in the long term, we would need to see if it has had an effect and if it’s necessary.
“We have had problems with groups of individuals in the past few years but we also have to consider how a ban would affect those who genuinely just want a glass of wine to chill out.”
The ban would be in force in an area within West Street, the station, Lyon Street and the land side of The Esplanade.
Bognor has been subject to an alcohol control order since June 1, 2006. This means booze can be taken away by the police from anyone breaking the law or suspected of being about to commit an offence.
But, as reported, the prevalence of street drinking caused councillors to reject a bid by Morrisons to sell alcohol for longer during the pre-Christmas fortnight.
It was reported then by Roger Wood, Arun’s neighbourhood officer, 20-30 individuals in the town’s street community had a high need for alcohol. In a report to the latest cabinet meeting, Mr Wood said the council and the police had received repeated concerns from residents about street drinkers. His statistics showed Marine ward had 746 reported incidents of anti-social behaviour between August 1, 2014, and July 31 last year. Of those, 191 related to street drinking.
For Hotham ward, the incidents were 420 and 73.
“These figures illustrate the detrimental effect street drinking is having on public concerns and perceptions of safety in the town centres,” says Mr Wood. “The data also shows this issue is persistent and ongoing.”
The ban will be imposed under a public space protection order. Failure to obey will mean a fixed penalty notice or a £1,000 fine.
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