New byelaws that will prohibit the drinking of alcohol in designated public places in the Borders moved a step closer this week.
Since 2013, Scottish Borders Council has been considering introducing the byelaws and an initial public consultation showed 56.5% of respondents in favour of the byelaws, and 55.7% in favour of exemption periods for common ridings, summer festivals and hogmanay. However, the level of response (132) was described by the council as “disappointing”.
This week councillors are being asked to approve submission of the draft byelaws to the Scottish Goverment. There will then have to be another public consultation which could lead to a public inquiry if there are objections to the proposals.
Community councils and area forums were asked for their views and the upshot is that the byelaws banning drinking in public places will only apply in towns and villages where there is support for their introduction - Coldingham, Eyemouth, Galashiels, Hawick, Jedburgh and Newtown St Boswells.
The reasons for supporting the byelaws included: crime prevention, challenging the culture of drinking; community safety and people’s perception of being safe; it will reduce littering; drinking on the streets creates a negative image of the Borders.
Concerns raised about implementing the byelaws included: policing and enforcement: clarity about existing powers for police and ensuring that policing is proportionate with concerns raised regarding intervention before a crime is committed and potential to enforce it Borders-wide; the potential to add towns or revoke the byelaws and how to define and identify a designated area; evidence of impact: requests for evidence from elsewhere; and concern regarding potential displacement of drinking.
The byelaws will not be operative until they have been confirmed by the Scottish Government who may confirm them with or without modifications put forward by SBC, or they may refuse to confirm them.