Drinking alcohol in public could be banned in towns

Proposed borders drinking ban in public places.
Proposed borders drinking ban in public places.

By-laws preventing the consumption of alcohol in certain public places in the region are to be put forward by Scottish Borders Council.

Councillors meeting today (Thursday) will be told that the Borders is the only local authority area in Scotland without such legislation in place.

However, if they are introduced, it is suggested that exemptions exist for Borders festivals and Hogmanay.

The report to be discussed by members was compiled by Ian Wilkie, the council’s head of corporate governance.

He states: “It is anticipated that introducing these by-laws will improve public safety and the perception of public safety, and help to reduce antisocial behaviour, improving community quality of life, and will make town centres a more inviting and sustainable place to visit and do business.”

Mr Wilkie adds: “Alcohol problems are not only prevalent in the Scottish Borders, but are preventable.

“With nearly half the adult population drinking outwith the sensible drinking guidelines, the Scottish Borders population, alongside Scotland, needs to rebalance its relationship with alcohol.” 
Members are being recommended to approve a public consultation on the proposed by-laws, and also agree for the area forums and community councils to be engaged in the process.

Without the by-laws, the police are limited in relation to when they can confiscate alcohol from people in the street.

Councillor Donald Moffat, executive member for community safety and former viceconvenor of the Lothian and Borders Police Board, said: “Most people would think it is quite sensible, and I know the police would like it.”

He added: “The police view is that they have got one hand tied behind their back, and this just gives them the full range of powers.

“After all, we have got a national police force now and it would seem odd that we were in a different situation in the Borders to the rest of the country.”

Mr Moffat said it was important that exemptions were put in place for the local festivals.

He added that he hoped the by-laws could help improve town centres and villages in the Borders, with the legislation likely to help cut antisocial behaviour.