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Boston booze ban moves one step closer

A total street-drinking ban for Boston town centre has moved a step closer.

Boston Borough Council's environment and performance committee recommended the booze ban to the Cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday night. Legislation which will give local councils more control over consumption of alcohol in public is not yet complete, so it may not be until early next year that a ban can be in place.

There was a unanimous vote in favour of the ban, with support from the police who said they were confident they could resource it and "make Boston a better place".

A borough-wide ban was discussed, but Inspector Jim Manning warned against, saying he would not have the resource to police it and residents would end up feeling disappointed.

He said there was not evidence to suggest a town centre ban, including the lower High Street area, would displace street drinkers to other areas.

Cllr Paul Kenny said if that was the case there could be a review of the drinking ban area at a later date and possibly an extension.

He said: "I think we will be the first in the country to do this, and it's about starting somewhere. This will do Boston a lot of good and the sooner we do it the better."

Insp Manning said: "The area proposed is frequently patrolled and will be enforced. We can resource this area. This will remove the ambiguity around the current DPPO (Designated Public Places Order). We know we can do some good and, over a period of months, we can get rid of the culture of street drinking. A borough-wide ban would fail though."

DPPOs, which do not have the effect of a total drinking ban - in place since 2007 - are due to be replaced by Public Space Protection Orders, giving councils the authority to introduce total street drinking bans if deemed necessary. DPPOs only allowed for removal of alcohol and offenders by police if connected with anti-social behaviour.

The committee heard that events held in the drinking ban area could still be licensed for consumption of alcohol - such as mulled wine at a Christmas market - but the blanket ban would make it illegal for all casual consumption. Insp Manning said a "common sense" approach would be taken by police officers.

There would have to be a further 28-day consultation period before a total drink ban could be introduced.

Cllr Mary Wright spoke about the efforts she and Cllr Carol Taylor had made to dissuade people in drink from urinating and defecating in public.

She said: "The people of Boston want this ban and I want it."

Cllr Helen Staples said she had witnessed people comatose through drink in public places frequented by families.

Observer Cllr Bob McAuley said he thought it would be "fantastic thing" for Boston. Cllr Richard Austin said it would help reduce alcohol-related litter and Cllr Taylor said women felt intimidated by even peaceful drunks.

She said: "When people are drunk they are unpredictable and become a danger. Let's show the whole country we're not putting up with it any longer."

Consultation with the public revealed that 97 per cent said the borough council should introduce a total ban.

Councillors heard from Peter Hunn, the council's principal community safety officer and Lincolnshire Police, that a relatively high number of incidents in Boston requiring a police presence are alcohol related. In 2013 9.1 per cent of all police incidents in the borough were alcohol related compared with an average for Lincolnshire of 6.6 per cent.

The new Public Space Protection Orders could be in place early next year and a breach of a new drinks ban order could be a maximum fine of £1,000.