Town plans public drinking ban

By Richard SmithMORE than 10,000 residents in a town could be banned from drinking alcohol in public under a proposal being considered by councillors.

By Richard Smith

MORE than 10,000 residents in a town could be banned from drinking alcohol in public under a proposal being considered by councillors.

Woodbridge Town Council is investigating the possibility of introducing a drinking ban throughout the town, including shopping streets, housing estates and the banks of the River Deben.

It would be a ground-breaking move to adopt a ban for the whole town – in other areas of Suffolk there are small-scale bans related to specific streets.

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But in Woodbridge, town councillors, anxious to preserve its genteel image, are worried they would only push the problem into other streets if they had a limited ban.

They have been told about the success of a ban in the historic centre of Bury St Edmunds, which was introduced several years ago by St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

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But pubgoers are allowed to drink at tables outside licensed premises and people can enjoy a drink in the Abbey Gardens.

A council spokeswoman said: "Our bylaw is that you have to stop drinking alochol if told so by a police officer.

"It was a popular move when it was brought in and it continues to have the support of the local population. We certainly have not had any demand by people on estates for it to be extended and displacement has not proved to be the case."

Inspector Ben Cook, of Woodbridge police, said: "We support wholeheartedly the implementation of an alcohol ban in these circumstances. We are keen to reduce problems and this would allow us to nip them in the bud."

The town council is putting a bid to Suffolk Coastal District Council's crime and disorder reduction panel to obtain money for a feasibility study and for the cost of new signs advertising the ban.

Les Binns, a town councillor, said: "A ban is quite prevalent in other parts of the country, but we are not certain that anybody else has got a complete ban.

"The drinking in public is bad for the image of the town and it causes quite a lot of disturbance to the elderly and other residents."

It would be up to police officers to use their discretion on enforcing the ban and the town council has emphasised community public events where alcohol was normally consumed would not be affected by the move.

Woodbridge Town Council clerk, Chris Walker, said: "It really does stem from the drinking in the Thoroughfare and the Turban Centre with the young people.

"By having this ban, it is another tool in the tool box for the police for them to take alcohol away from young people and dispose of it.

"It is difficult to set a limit on where the ban could be because people could just go to another street and, therefore, we have gone for townwide.

"But we do not want to push potential problems to Martlesham and Melton, so we have written to those parishes to ask if they would join us and perhaps have a ban in the parts of their parishes close to Woodbridge."

Sgt Caroline Millar spoke to the town council in the summer about drinking in the town and warned the beautiful historic town was in danger of being spoilt by large groups of young people congregating and drinking in public.

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