Alcohol restriction zone may be extended

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News: Sheffield Telegraph online 24-hours a day.

POLICE powers to control street drinking in Sheffield city centre could be extended to cover Broomhall and the Bramall Lane area.

Declaring the city centre an Alcohol Restricted Zone seven years ago is judged to have helped to reduce violence and anti-social behaviour and to improve the quality of life for businesses, shoppers and residents.

Now councillors are being asked to consider the encompassing of neighbouring areas.

In both Broomhall and Bramall Lane, businesses are welcoming the prospect of police being able to use powers to ask people to stop drinking if they are causing a nuisance. Any person who refuses, commits a criminal offence and can be arrested.

The zone covers public places such as streets, parks and car parks - but police say it does not apply to customers drinking “sensibly” outside a pub.

However, community groups and residents are telling the council that they do not feel the case has been made for what is now known as a Designated Public Place Order.

In particular, a consultation programme indicated strong opposition in Broomhall. “A large majority felt that the Broomhall area didn’t have issues with alcohol-related anti-social behaviour,” says a council report.

“If there was, it was a very low level in comparison to the city centre and the issues that might occur in the area didn’t warrant a Designated Public Place Order.

“The main issue being that whilst people supported the idea of a DPPO, they didn’t want their area being labelled as having negative issues with alcohol and the street signage will infer this.”

A council licensing committee is due to decide today (Thursday) whether to approve the extensions - and to review the effectiveness of the alcohol restrictions that took effect in the city centre in 2006.

They are under strong pressure not to backtrack.

Richard Eyre, head of city centre management and major events, says he firmly believes the zone has had a positive effect. At first, there were concerns that the problem would simply move elsewhere, but this has not been evident, other than for an initial six months.

It is “critical” that the Alcohol Restriction Zone continues, says Mr Eyre, otherwise there was a risk of returning to scenes pre-2005 and the losing the effects of the excellent work of the police, council and other agencies.

Mr Eyre says: “Street drinking will again be prominent on our main areas and public spaces, violent crime and resulting injuries will increase in the night-time economy as people are allowed to leave premises with bottles and glasses.”