LETTER: Ban on alcohol is a step too far

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I am writing in response to an application being made by Horsham District Council to ban the consumption of alcohol in the vast majority of the town and surrounding areas.

Recently a Dispersal Order has been applied for and granted by Sussex Police, enabling them to exclude people from the town centre or to disperse groups of people.

Hot on the heels of this ,our Horsham District Council has now decided to play a game of oneupmanship and are threatening to prohibit the consumption of alcohol in the following areas; all land within the boundaries of the electoral wards of Horsham Town, together with Denne, Forest, Holbrook East, Holbrook West, Trafalgar, Roffey North and Roffey South.

The order will mean that no alcohol will be allowed to be consumed in these areas. Furthermore if the police constable or “accredited person” believes any alcohol is intended to be consumed, then they will have the powers to confiscate any alcohol found on said person/s.

Come the warmer weather next year, when you may feel like enjoying a few drinks in the park with friends, you will find that this is no longer possible, should this regulation come into force.

As far as I can see this regulation also means that if I were to buy a bottle of wine and were openly carrying it home (without a shopping bag), carrying it in the streets or any public area then it can reasonably be construed that the bottle may be confiscated for no reason other than the “accredited person” may believe I might consume it.

For the purposes of the Police Reform Act it would appear that the Chief Constable can allow anyone employed by HDC the power to enforce this regulation.

Think about this and whilst discretion may be used I have heard of a group of youngsters (three of them) playing a board game in a park being moved on!!

Through reading your paper and various Facebook pages I am well aware of various issues, particularly in the Bishopric, of people sitting on benches drinking alcohol at various times of the day and causing distress to local residents and agree it should not happen.

However the recent Dispersal Order should cover such events and this complete ban on alcohol consumption in public areas is “using a sledgehammer to crack a nut” mentality.

I really believe that issues of under-age drinking and being drunk in public places should be dealt with at the root cause of issues, i.e. shops selling alcohol to persons under the age of 18 and pubs and clubs serving alcohol to patrons already drunk. Perhaps these issues should be tackled first.

I really think that a sledgehammer is being used with impunity to tackle a problem and not the causes of drinking.

Should any of your readers wish to object to this they have until 8 December to write to the community safety officer at HDC.

NEIL DAVIES

Manor Fields, Horsham