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Ban boozing in Canvey town centre
8:30am Friday 18th October 2013 in News
CALLS have been made to ban public drinking in Canvey town centre to stop drunks congregating outside shops.
The suggestion has come in response to complaints about drunks causing a nuisance outside shops in Furtherwick Road and the High Street and scaring away customers.
Town and borough councillor Dave Blackwell, leader of the Canvey Independent Party, wants Castle Point Council to officially make the area an alcohol-free zone in an effort to tackle the problem.
His call came weeks after Canvey’s reputation for drunken yobs saw it voted one of the “chavviest” places in the UK.
Mr Blackwell said: “This has never really been a problem on Canvey before, but in the past few months, about five or six people have been regularly gathering in the square. I know the Knightswick Centre has had to move them on a few times.
“I’ve heard complaints from families and women who have been walking past and have had horrible comments and abuse shouted at them.
“It’s really intimidating and it’s putting people off coming here.”
Mr Blackwell also fears the problem could discourage investment in the proposed £100million town centre regeneration project.
He explained: “What sort of image does this create for Canvey—especially after we were voted one of the chavviest places in the country?
“People won’t want to invest in reviving the town if they know we have a problem with drunks.”
The council could impose a booze ban, by introducing a designated public place order, which would give police powers to move on anyone found drinking in the street.
Insp Chris Wood, who is responsible for the island’s policing, welcomed the suggestion.
He said his officers were aware of the problem, but could only act if an individual was drunk and disorderly, or caught committing a crime.
Insp Wood added: “We have had some complaints and our patrols have been dealing with it.
“It is something we will deal with if it is upsetting people in the town centre, but there needs to be an offence committed for us to intervene.
“If the council wanted to consider bringing it in we would be happy to discuss it, in terms of enforcement.”
Concerns have also been raised the problem could put off potential investment for the proposed £100million regeneration of the town centre.
However, Godfrey Isaacs, Tory councillor responsible for neighbourhoods and safer communities, thinks the council needs to look more closely at the underlying causes.
He explained: “At the end of the day, we have a duty of care to these people. We need to ask ourselves why these people are drinking. Are they homeless? Have their marriages broken down? Have they lost their jobs?
“We are trying to work with partner organisations to see if we can get someone down there to talk to them and help them.
“I was on Canvey Saturday lunchtime. I drove through the town centre and I thought I would be proud of that town centre because there were a thousand more people there than we have in Hadleigh.”
He added: “It’s not a case of us not wanting to do this, but when you put something like this in place, there has to be evidence to warrant it.
“It’s the same as if we wanted to reduce the speed limit. We would have to have sufficient cause to do it.
“The question is if we did bring it in, where else would they go? They would just move to another area.
“There are procedures for people to report incidents to the police. I’m sure if there were masses of complaints, the police would ask us to do something, but this is a small group of people drinking in the town.”
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