Lyme Regis: Plans to tackle drunken yobs in gardens fall through (From Bridport and Lyme Regis News)
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Lyme Regis: Plans to tackle drunken yobs in gardens fall through
Lyme Regis has missed its chance this year to tackle anti-social drinking with new police powers.
Town councillors are at war with each other – over whether the town has a problem with drunken anti-social behaviour or not and if so what to do about it.
The police wanted the council to put in place a Designated Public Place Order (DPPO) to allow police powers to tackle adults who are drinking and who might cause trouble.
But now police say even if councillors agreed the DPPO it could not be implemented in time for the summer season when it is most needed.
Councillors have already discussed it at their strategy and policy committee and full council and it came back to strategy and policy for more debate.
There is also a new Government White Paper on the way which would make it easier to deal with anti-social behaviour and some councillors want to wait for that. Coun Owen Lovell argued the council needed to do something now.
He said: “This authority has had many incidences of drunken unruly, threatening behaviour to drive people who want to peacefully walk through the gardens to stay away or scurry through.
“I feel we should have legislation in place so the police can act if there is a perceived offence.
“I do not support putting this off any longer.”
But others said there was no proof of problems and without that the council had no business increasing police powers. Coun Lucy Campbell said: “There has to be factual evidence to support this.
“We asked police for that evidence and we were given one sheet of paper with details over a five-year span of a dozen incidents maximum, five of which happened in one year and only one they could actually say was down to alcohol.”
Coun Daryl Turner said: “If this white paper goes ahead it negates this anyway. It absolutely makes sense not to waste, time or money or resources until we know what is happening.”
In the end councillors voted to ask police to confirm if they still wanted a DPPO or to wait for the White Paper legislation.
Insp Mike Derby said given it was too late for a DPPO this season it would be sensible to wait for the White Paper.
But he added: “We have enough police to police Lyme Regis.
“We have powers when people are drunk. What we don’t have is powers to stop people drinking when we know that they are going to get out of hand later on.”
Doug Goodman, a local travel public relations expert said whether to give the police more powers was a difficult decision. He said: “Residents and visitors would probably welcome the police having more power to curb bad behaviour but is it going a little bit over the top?
“It is a balance between civil liberties and making sure that Lyme remains a safe and secure holiday destination.”
Matt Yaxley, of Herbie’s Dino Bar on Lyme seafront, said: “When it’s a nice evening people go down to have a barbecue and a bottle of wine, would these powers count for them as well?
“If there are people causing trouble in the gardens then maybe it is fair enough, but how do you distinguish?”