STREET DRINKING: Council votes to ‘wait and see’ on booze action

COUNCILLORS voted to delay acting on town centre drinking rules until new government legislation is in place.

Cabinet members were keen to stress that the issue would not ‘slip off the plate’ as they voted to defer a public consultation on the town’s Designated Public Place Order (DPPO) in their meeting on Wednesday.

The members of the leading Conservative group also voted to ask officers to monitor new legislation in connection with street drinking and said they would support efforts to increase public understanding of the order.

The decision was made to wait and see what happened with the new anti-social behaviour-orientated Community Protection Orders (CPO), which come into force next April.

Coun Stephen Woodliffe said: “We’re not just passing all this work away. We can’t just spend thousands on consultation procedures if we find in six months time that the DPPO will no longer be.

“We have to hold back until we know what the government are going to do.”

Coun Mike Gilbert added: “Clearly the public are very supportive of extending the DPPO and when these new Community Protection Orders come into being the public will be consulted.”

Police have said instances of drink-related anti-social behaviour have dropped since the DPPO came in, and the order has not led to issues being displaced.

Following the meeting, the authority’s Labour group critcised the decison, saying it showed that the Conservatives did not listen to electors’ concerns.

Leader Coun Paul Kenny said: “While we recognise the present Government is proposing new legislation next year, we could have got ahead of the game by talking to people whose lives are being blighted by anti-social drinking and identify the issues that need resolving.

“Then hopefully when the new law arrived we could have been one of the first councils to act.”