Ban on public drinking edges closer

Photo: Michael Gillen
Photo: Michael Gillen

Councillors have agreed to hold a consultation on introducing pilot alcohol bylaws in Eyemouth, Hawick, Galashiels and Peebles.

It follows an initial consultation which ran from March 27 to June 30 this year.

It looked to establish whether or not people thought the drinking of alcohol in public places was a problem that needed to be addressed.

That consultation yielded a cocktail of results, however, with no one opinion representing a majority.

Of the 392 respondents who expressed a view, 217 said there isn’t a problem with public drinking in the Borders, while 175 said they think there is. However, a further 99 said they don’t know.

The results of that first consultation were brought before councillors at a meeting of Scottish Borders Council last week, where elected members were asked to decide what to do next.

They were given the choice of binning the plans for a public drinking ban, or to move to the second stage of a consultation, which will focus on bringing the bylaws in as part of a pilot scheme. 

Speaking in favour of continuing the consultation, Mid Berwickshire councillor John Greenwell, who chairs the council licensing board, said: “With just under 500 responses I think the consultation has proved to be a success. 

“I would just like to emphasise that I do support our professionals in the police and from the NHS in their concerns over drinking in public; it does cause them problems and I think that’s something we should be very aware of.

“We should never lose sight of the fact that alcohol is a drug, and it causes damage to people and their families, and anyone else who is involved with that.”

Councillor Euan Jardine, who was once a supporter of the bylaws, said: “Unfortunately, we know that sometimes a small minority of people like to go a bit off the rails after a few alcoholic beverages. 

“However, because a few people do something do we really need to cut the enjoyment for everyone? 

Members voted 19 to 13, with the majority of councillors moving to begin consultation on a drinking ban pilot scheme.