Consultation on alcohol free zones

Test Valley Borough Council is proposing introducing alcohol free zones across several of the wards of the borough. The Designated Public Places Order (DPPO) gives the Police and other accredited persons, such as Neighbourhood Wardens, the power to confiscate alcohol from anyone found to be behaving in an anti-social way whilst drinking. The extended order would not prevent consumption of alcohol but would make it an offence to continue to do so after being told to stop by a police officer, and could result in a court appearance and a £500 fine. The council is now giving residents the chance to comment on the proposals. Responses to the consultation should be sent in writing to David Smith, Housing and Community Services,Test Valley Borough Council, Beech Hurst, Andover SP10 3AJ before the 18 April 2008.

Test Valley Liberal Democrats fully support the new alcohol free zones. The initiative was first proposed by Valley Park councillor Alan Dowden in June 2007 when he submitted a motion to council calling for action to combat anti-social behaviour. Speaking at the time Cllr Dowden called for the introduction of alcohol-free areas in Test Valley. “Antisocial behaviour is one of the biggest issues with the public and a lot of it is down to alcohol. The problem is borough-wide. Alcohol-free zones will act as a deterrent, but the police will need to enforce them. The cost to the borough in criminal damage was way over £100,000 last year. The public is demanding something is done about it,” he said.
He was supported by Romsey mayor Mark Cooper who called for measures to stop young people getting hold of drink saying that “The supermarket sale of alcohol is placing large volumes of relatively cheap alcohol into the hands of immature individuals. I would favour a borough-wide ban of alcohol in public places.”

The proposal to introduce the ban in all urban areas of the borough was ratified by full council in October 2007 but needed Home Office approval before its introduction.

I welcome the public consultation. At last we are seeing some action on a problem which is of major concern to all residents. The relaxation of licensing laws has lead to an increase in drinking and drink-fuelled vandalism in public places which residents find offensive and unacceptable. We must give the police and other agencies the powers to combat this. I hope appropriate action will also be taken against those shops irresponsibly selling alcohol.
I am sure the public will give their overwhelming support to the new proposals and the police will use these new powers sparingly but effectively to reclaim our streets and parks from the minority who are spoiling them.

Liberal Democrat councillors will be monitoring the levels of anti-social behaviour in their wards and looking to review the effectiveness of the ban next year.

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