Public booze ban called for in town

AN MP has called for an alcohol ban in a town's public places after reports of "out of control" drinking at an historic park.Bob Russell, who represents Colchester in parliament, said he had written to the borough council and the chief of the town's police asking them to back his proposal.

AN MP has called for an alcohol ban in a town's public places after reports of "out of control" drinking at an historic park.

Bob Russell, who represents Colchester in parliament, said he had written to the borough council and the chief of the town's police asking them to back his proposal.

He added that he was supported by some local town centre councillors in calling for an end to public drinking after having received "numerous" complaints from residents.

"Last week I had an email from a former resident of Colchester who was so appalled by what he saw in the town he went to the trouble of looking up my address to contact me," Mr Russell said yesterday.


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"The problem is the presence of people consuming alcohol in public areas and Castle Park, becoming more and more intoxicated and then behaving in a less than welcoming way.

"The vast majority of young people don't cause any problems, but a minority do."

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Mr Russell said he would like to see the ban to cover the park, the streets of the town and St Botolph's Priory, a historical ruin notorious as a hang-out for drinkers.

"I am not saying people mustn't have a drink, it's just a question of time and place," he said.

A request for Colchester's town centre to become an alcohol free zone was mooted five years ago, when local police argued against it because they said it would be very expensive to introduce and enforce.

And yesterday Chief Superintendent Dave Murthwaite, divisonal commander of Colchester police, said he had replied to Mr Russell's letter citing some concerns and suggesting that a multi-agency approach might be more appropriate.

"Unfortunately, single initiatives often do not facilitate a sustainable solution to a complex issue.

"My experience of banning alcohol suggests it has a mixed response.

"I think it would be very difficult to enforce. It is like trying to ban smoking in the town centre - what initially seems to be a good idea can prove a very difficult job to regulate.

"The reality is that it would create a lot of paperwork and bureaucracy and while doing that, the officers would not be doing other things."

Yesterday Mr Russell's proposal was received cautiously by Nigel Chapman, Colchester Borough Council's cabinet member with responsibility for street scene.

"I think my first reaction would be that we would need to ask the advice of the police. If they think it would help we would certainly consider it.

"It's all very well introducing bans, but somebody has to enforce them.

"The other parties to consult would be the town centre businesses to see what they thought."

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