Police won’t turn blind eye to pinot grigio picnickers

One of the region’s top police officers has told councillors that bobbies in the Borders will not turn a blind eye to drinking in public if new alcohol bylaws are put in place around the region.

Assistant Chief Constable Mike McCormick was responding to a question from East Berwickshire councillor Jim Fullarton at a meeting of SBC last Thursday.

Mr Fullarton said a concern for people in his ward was the interpretation of the bylaws, and whether officers would tackle “people on Coldingham beach having a picnic and a glass of pinot grigio”.

Mr Fullarton added: “I hope that will be allowed.”

However, ACC McCormick said: “It is not for us to ignore that. We cannot allow drinking in public spaces (if the bylaws are implemented), but we will educate people in the first instance.”

ACC McCormick added that it was unlikely that such behaviour would be brought to the police’s attention and said that they would use their discretion and also target ‘hotspots’ where complaints are received about people drinking alcohol in public spaces.

At the end of March councillors narrowly voted in favour of the introduction of legislation prohibiting the consumption of alcohol in designated places in Galashiels, Hawick, Jedburgh, Newtown St Boswells, Coldingham and Eyemouth.

Following that decision details of the individual bylaws are being drawn up. Once this is completed a statutory consultation period will commence.

The Scottish Government will have the final say on whether or not the bylaws are introduced following the public consultation.

It is proposed that the bylaws will allow exclusions for principal festival days and Hogmanay.

A general lack of support from local people and community groups for the bylaws when the local consultation took place had prompted council leader David Parker to move that councillors take no action on the proposal, but his motion was defeated by one vote.