A STREET drinker was hit with a fine while booze was seized from three others in a tough new crackdown in Southend High Street.

Drinking alcohol in the city’s High Street is banned under a public space protection order, which gives police and community safety officers the power to seize alcohol from anyone drinking in public and fine those who refuse.

Essex Police joined forces with the street rangers, community safety officers and the town centre policing team for a day of action.

They spoke to street drinkers, seized alcoholic drinks and one individual received a fixed penalty notice for street drinking.

James Courtenay, Southend Tory councillor responsible for community safety and public protection, said: “I’d say that street drinking is an issue that’s always there. It’s not the biggest issue but I think it is symptomatic of other things.

“You have to ask yourself why people are drinking on the street in the middle of the day. It’s good to tackle and get to the root cause of that.

“It’s always great when a joint partnership is working. If someone is homeless and drunk, then police might not be the best people but they can contact the council.

“Likewise, if the street drinker is aggressive and violent, then the council can contact police.”

Lesley Taylor, a Southend resident, and regular visitor to Southend High Street, welcomed the initiative.

She said: “One of the reasons I am reluctant to walk up the high street is because there are certain groups of people drinking beer, spirits and so forth. I feel quite uncomfortable when faced with them. It is so sad we are a city now, and more people are coming here. I tend to stick to the Royals or the Victoria Centre, so I don’t have to face certain elements like this in the high street. It is so sad.”

Daniel Cowan, Southend Labour Group leader, said: “I think in many ways street drinking has improves but there are certain days, times and events where it does seem to increase.

“Obviously with more footfall around those dates it gives the impression of it getting worse but I believe Operation Episode has been doing a good job. The most important thing is about reducing anti-social behaviour.”

Officers also stopped 16 cyclists flouting the rules in the High Street and one illegal electric bike was seized.