New powers have been granted to authorities in Harrogate to tackle “nuisance” street drinking and anti-social behaviour.
Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) has passed a new public order, the first of its kind in the town, to prohibit anyone from drinking in the town centre’s streets after they are asked to stop.
Anybody caught doing so, or refusing to hand over their alcohol when asked, could now face a prosecution and a fine.
“There’s an issue with street drinking in certain parts of Harrogate, particularly around the centre,” said Coun Mike Chambers, cabinet member for housing and safer communities.
“We are not immune.
“But it’s important that we have an area in the centre of town where people can enjoy Harrogate without the nuisance or disturbance of street drinkers who are causing problems.”
HBC’s cabinet approved the Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) at its meeting on Wednesday night, following public meetings and a consultation which saw 85 per cent of respondents in favour of the move.
The order will come into effect in mid-July for one year, after which time it will be reviewed and extended if necessary.
HBC says the extraordinary measure was considered after complaints about people drinking in the streets around Beulah Street, Bower Street, One Arch and Oxford Street.
“These streets are places which are very busy thoroughfares,” said Coun Chambers.
“The idea is to allow the people of Harrogate, and people visiting Harrogate, to have the best experience possible without having to encounter people who may cause them distress.”
The goal, he said, is to tackle problem drinkers not stop individuals who are enjoying a quiet drink.
“This doesn’t stop people drinking in pavement cafes or restaurants,” he stressed.
“We are not saying that if you go into the centre of Harrogate you can’t have a drink.
“It’s not a drinking ban. It’s a device for allowing us to check these people who are causing bother.”
And, he insisted, the council is not looking to “move this problem on”, but is also looking at ways to tackle the root cause of street drinking.
The authority is working with community safety teams, local agencies and the NHS, to highlight treatment and support services, he said.
And while HBC would be prosecuting authority, North Yorkshire Police and British Transport Police would enforce it.
“Residents and businesses have told me again and again that drinking in the town centre is a huge concern and that’s why I’ve been working hard with them to ensure that the problem is tackled,” said Julia Mulligan, crime commissioner for North Yorkshire Police.
“It’s not fair for a few people to spoil the quality of life of residents and the behaviour has had a significant impact on businesses in the town centre.
“The order is a positive new tool that will help both the council and the police deal with drinkers who behave badly.”