STREET drinking is on the rise in Basildon town centre and becoming a “visible issue” after additional police powers ran out.

Basildon Council is yet to renew the public space protection area covering the town centre with Essex Police.

As a result, police officers have fewer powers to move on residents who have been drinking in the street and causing antisocial behaviour.

Andrew Baggott, Tory leader of Basildon Council, fears that street drinking will put off shoppers and residents from visiting the town centre.

He said: “We need to get a grip on this. It’s being done in full view.

“If we want to attract people to a friendly town centre, we need to clamp down on it.

“There’s no point having laws if there’s nobody to enforce it. The police want to come back to the town centre.”

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Negotiations are back underway with Essex Police to bring the PSPO back to the town centre, after the council changed hands from a Labour-led coalition to a Tory majority last month.

David Dadds, the Mayor of Basildon, is hopeful of bringing an increased police presence to the town centre.

He said: “The problem of street drinking is an issue again.

“The lack of a PSPO is causing a problem with enforcement.

“It’s a big problem in the town centre. The PSPO has lapsed.”

The mayor is also hoping to bring a “police cabin” to the town centre as a permanent base.

A Basildon Council spokesman said: “The PSPO that prohibited street drinking in the town centre has recently expired.

“The council will continue to work in partnership with external agencies, such as Essex Police, to address any anti-social behaviour caused by alcohol consumption in the town centre.

“The council and Essex Police will continue to ensure that all available tools and powers are used to tackle issues of this nature.

“The council has also funded a community policing team for Basildon town centre, who will provide a police presence to reassure members of the public and to deal with any nuisance.”