Drinkers could be banned for 24 hours

STREET drinkers could be banned from Bognor Regis town centre for up to a day under proposed police powers.

Sergeant Neal Harvey wants to crackdown on anti-social behviour by creating the town’s first dispersal zone across all of the central area.

If his proposal is approved, it will give police officers and community support officers the power to bar those causing trouble from the zone for a maximum of 24 hours.

It it hoped the measure will be in place in the next few months.

Sgt Harvey said he had been prompted to take action by the presence of ten-15 persistent street drinkers.

“They are not to be confused with the homeless,” he said. “These are people who choose to spend their time on the streets but they have homes to go to at the end of the day.

“The majority of them don’t live in the town centre but they come in here and cause problems.

“That has an impact on the traders and it has an impact on the town.”

The dispersal power will apply to any group of two or more individuals deemed by the police to be capable of creating a nuisance in the designated zone.

This will include every road from West Street, along Canada Grove to the railway station and over to Hotham Park.

It will cover the adjoining coach park as well as incorporate the park and go down Gloucester Road to the seafront.

The beach would also be incorporated along to West Street.

The zones were a feature of a 2003 law to tackle anti-social behaviour but none have been formally put forward for Bognor.

It is believed Sgt Harvey’s scheme is the first across the Arun district.

He revealed the details at a meeting of Bognor Regis Town Council.

He stressed the idea, though well advanced, had still to be approved by his senior officers. The backing of the British Transport Police, to cover the station, was also needed.

“Hopefully, this will be up and running before the summer when the weather gets really good and people want to spend longer on the streets,” he said.

Town councillors agreed to write a formal letter of support for the idea to Sussex Police.

Cllr Paul Wells, the town’s mayor, said: “It’s vitally important for us to clean up the town centre.

“It’s got to the point now where the situation has started to damage the town. There are various comments being made where these problems are starting to give a bad impression of the town centre.

“This is absolutely key to taking the town centre forward.”

Cllr Roger Nash (L, Pevensey) said: “I agree with the mayor about the problems in the town centre. We certainly have to do something radical and proactive about that.”

But he wanted to reserve judgment because he preferred to see alcohol-free public places.