Ban on drinking in designated public areas

Alcohol underage drinking police intervention
Alcohol underage drinking police intervention

Banning the drinking of alcohol in designated areas in the Borders moved a step closer last week after the council agreed to consult the public.

Scottish Borders Council is the only Scottish local authority to have no byelaws prohibiting the consumption of alcohol in specific public places. Previous attempts to introduce such byelaws in 2007 were thwarted when an objection couldn’t be resolved.

However, as the council aims to make life in the region “safe from crime, disorders and danger” they are trying again.

Last week councillors agreed to engage with community councils, area forums and the public on whether people feel there is a need to ban the drinking of alcohol in some public places in the region.

Berwickshire community councils have plenty of time to discuss the matter before deciding on their response as the byelaws will be discussed by the Berwickshire Area Forum in November.

Writing to community councils following the council’s decision to consult on the matter, Ian Wilkie, SBC’s head of corporate governance said: “It is a matter for Scottish Borders Council to determine whether or not to make the byelaws and, if so, to which settlements the byelaws will apply.

“It is also a matter for Scottish Borders Council to determine what exemptions will be included in the byelaws.

“Finally the Scottish Ministers approval will be required.”

One issue likely to be raised by many is the impact any such ban would have on local festivals but this has already been addressed. Any byelaws would include “appropriate exemptions for the Borders common ridings and local summer festivals”. New year celebrations would also be exempt.

As well as wanting to keep Borders towns and streets safe for everyone, councillors were also persuaded to look again at bye-laws when they saw the results of the Scottish Borders Alcohol Profile earlier this year.

In his report to councillors Mr Wilkie said: “Byelaws prohibiting consumption of alcohol in a designated public place would provide an additional tool for the police to reduce anti-social behaviour through early intervention.

“Such byelaws would reinforce the strong measures which occur within licensed premises to protect children and young people with regard to consumption of alcohol,for, without these, there is no offence committed by the activity on its own.”