Street drinking threat from smoking ban

SMOKERS who are forced to pop outside pubs for a puff because of the smoking ban could be breaking street drinking laws, it has been claimed.The new ban has also created a nuisance for people living near town centre pubs, who have complained about groups of smokers congregating on the streets.

SMOKERS who are forced to pop outside pubs for a puff because of the smoking ban could be breaking street drinking laws, it has been claimed.

The new ban has also created a nuisance for people living near town centre pubs, who have complained about groups of smokers congregating on the streets.

In Bury St Edmunds, calls have been made to tighten up late licensing laws as town centre residents and councillors said the smoking ban had ignored the implications for local people.

People living in the town's historic core said their lives had been blighted by smokers noisily congregating outside neighbouring pubs with drinks in hand, which could break street drinking laws.


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But last night police said associated crime in the town had decreased since the ban while publicans said any problems would end once summer was over.

James Langston, chairman of the Churchgate Area Association in Bury, said: “We are all very concerned about the impact of smoking ban on late licensing hours.

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“We have heard from a number of residents about people congregating on pavements, smoking and drinking, and talking late at night - causing a problem for people in the immediate vicinity. This has certainly got worse since the smoking ban came in.”

The problems have been highlighted by borough councillors Paul Farmer and Richard Rout, who claim the ban has forced people on to the pavements.

Mr Rout said: “It wouldn't matter so much under the old licensing regime up to 11pm, but after midnight it is bound to have an impact on areas which are residential.

“Having seen and heard the problem for ourselves, we want to do something about it and not just wait for colder weather to deflect the smokers.”

But Jan Rutherford, owner of the Queens Head and a committee member of the town's Pubwatch scheme, said she felt the problem was seasonal.

“I don't believe there has been a huge increase in noise since the ban was enforced. People in the summer will go outside anyway and we have had no choice but to follow Government guidelines on the smoking ban.”

Sgt Steve Henthorn , of Bury Central Safer Neighbourhood Team, said cracking down on street drinking in the town centre was one of their top priorities.

He added: “We have not noticed an increase in an abuse of the street drinking law or received any complaints from the public because of the smoking ban - in fact the level of offending has decreased as officers educate people about street drinking.”

“If you consume alcohol in a public place within this designated town centre area you are committing an offence and will be issued with a fixed penalty notice.

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