Border festivals ‘drink sensibly’ plea

REVELLERS attending this summer’s common ridings and festivals have been urged to go easy on the booze.

Getting drunk should not be a prerequisite to having a good time, is the central message of the Drink Responsibly campaign which is now being extended after the rugby sevens series.

A working group of Borders Alcohol and Drugs Partnership, Addaction (a specialist drug and alcohol treatment charity), Lothian and Borders Police and Scottish Borders Council (SBC) is promoting a “drink responsibly” campaign by working with communities and festival organisers and highlighting the issues associated with high consumption of alcohol.

The working group says excessive drinking impacts on the individual and on communities, and a combination of interventions is required to reduce alcohol-related harm overall.

House fires, assaults, drinking-driving, antisocial behaviour and underperformance at work are often linked to people who drink too much.

A spokesperson from Lothian and Borders Police said the common ridings and festivals in each town are a time when all communities are joined together to celebrate these long-standing traditions.

But he added: “Equally, these are busy periods for the police and other emergency services, as these events are often associated with the consumption of alcohol. All too often people blame their inappropriate or offending behaviour on alcohol.

“We encourage everyone to enjoy themselves. However, it is important that individuals act and take responsibility for their alcohol intake, think of the consequences before it is too late and we would ask people to remain safe. Sadly, we still deal too frequently with alcohol-related disorder and drink drivers.”

School pupils were arrested by police after alcohol-related incidents at the Hawick sevens tournament and on the same day alcohol was confiscated from under-agers in Galashiels.

Hawick Common Riding Committee secretary, Frank Scott, commented: “We are happy to support the responsible drinking message through our programme of events. The common riding is about celebrating our history and we want everyone to and have a good time, but to be sensible about how much they drink and to look out for their friends.”

Dr Eric Baijal, director of public health for the SBC and NHS Borders and chair of the Borders Alcohol and Drugs Partnership, added that, while it is important on such occasions to have a sense of community, it is important to have a sense of well-being too.

He urged: “Prove for yourself that you can enjoy yourself without overindulging in alcohol. We should all share the vision of a Borders where moderate, responsible drinking is the norm.”

The Alcohol and Drugs Partnership is also urging people to prepare for being out all day and drinking alcohol over an extended period of time with little or no rest or sleep in between activities.

It says it is important to eat regularly and keep up intake of fluids other than alcohol, to reduce the risk of dehydration.

Equally important is making sure you are dressed appropriately for the weather and have enough layers or waterproof clothing with you if the weather turns bad.

Anyone who comes into contact with the police, Scottish Ambulance Service or the Red Cross for alcohol-related reasons during the common ridings period will be given an information card with guidance on safer drinking and where to get advice and support.