Councillors back public drinking ban

THOUSANDS of residents will be consulted about a possible drinking ban in their town centre after councillors gave the initiative the go-ahead last night.

By John Howard

THOUSANDS of residents will be consulted about a possible drinking ban in their town centre after councillors gave the initiative the go-ahead last night.

Members of Stowmarket Town Council opted for a complete ban on drinking on streets in the town centre amid concerns about crime and anti-social behaviour.

A ban would give the police powers to take action against anybody found drinking within a designated area and offenders facing fines. Officers already hold powers to take action against underage drinking in public.


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Frances Berry, administration officer at the town council, advised councillors that there were two options for the ban.

They were the town centre on its own, or the town centre with the Recreation Ground, the skate park and play area, part of Recreation Road, Walnut Tree Walk and Byles Walk.

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She said: "A ban including the Recreation Ground would mean no consumption of intoxicating liquor under any circumstances.

"A family picnic including a bottle of wine, drinking of beer or wine at carnival committee events and an inebriated individual drinking a can of beer could, potentially, be dealt with in the same way. Alcoholic beverages can be confiscated and there is the possibility of a fine."

Marilyn Finbow, a town councillor, said a ban on drinking on the Recreation Ground could have dire consequences for the town's hugely popular carnival.

Town and district councillor Frank Whittle, a former publican, said Stowmarket suffered quite badly from underage drinking and a ban has worked in other parts of the country.

Councillors said they supported a ban, but were keen to clarify whether they could have one that included the Recreation Ground, but with the option to an apply for an occasional licence for drinks to be consumed there during special events, such as the town's carnival.

They unanimously voted to support a ban covering the Recreation Ground if they could gain such licences.

Otherwise they said they would support a town centre ban that did not include the recreation land, which is just off the town centre.

Joanne Rogers, chairwoman of the town centre crime and disorder reduction group, told councillors she would now consult residents whose streets could be covered in a ban – around 3,000 people – to gain their views.

If a ban is finally agreed, town councillors will have to apply to Mid Suffolk District Council before it can be brought into force, and consult with the town's police sector commander.

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