March 12 2014 Latest news:
Monday, December 2, 2013
Street drinkers and beggars are to be banned from Colchester in a bid to make the town centre more attractive to visitors.
The borough council was granted a Section 222 injunction at Chelmsford Crown Court last week, which gives it powers to prosecute people who drink on the streets or beg for money in the centre of town.
The council believes Colchester is only the second area in the UK to introduce such regulations, after Moseley Village in Birmingham, and says it has made the move in response to complaints.
The council’s portfolio holder for planning, community safety and culture, Tim Young, has promised that the new laws, due to come into force on December 27, will be enforced with “sensitivity”.
He said: “We heard about the initiative in Moseley Village and officers investigated how we might be able to use them to the town’s advantage.
“They have researched it and we are delighted the judge has granted us the injunction.
“Drinking and begging is not a big problem in Colchester but we are a proactive council that will use every tool we have in the box.”
Mr Young said the approach was “carrot and stick” and that drinkers and beggars will be offered help from alcohol and drug-dependency charities, and given a warning, before any prosecutions are handed out.
He added there are particular trouble-spots in the town centre, such as St Botolph’s Priory, and that street drinkers and beggars had put people off from visiting the town.
The new regulations will take in most of Colchester town centre but do not include Castle Park, where people regularly picnic, and food and drink festivals are held throughout the year.