By Matt Taylor
Since March 2008, drinkers congregating around Hanley’s new Job Centre have been intimidating and irritating homeowners in the residential area it was built in replacing the city-centre office.
Now, a year and a half on, after police said that bringing a ban on alchohol consumption in the area would be impossible without first gathering enough evidence of a necessity for the move, the city council is writing to residents to ask for their opinion on a public drinking ban.
Before an exclusion zone can be granted, consultation with the public must take place, which is why the council is contacting local people by post.
The new legislation would mean that police and PCSOs would have the power to confiscate alcohol from anyone drinking in the street. Anyone not complying can then be arrested.
The news is being welcomed by residents who have made increasing complaints about antisocial behaviour and other crimes in the area since the new centre was built and drinkers began using the area around it as a meeting place to drink. Elderly people have said that their walks into town passing the Job Centre are now marred by intimidating groups of people who have been drinking and violent disturbances and drug use and dealing is also of concern.
The new no-drinking zone will not only include the area around the centre but extend from Bucknall New Road to Town Road encompassing the entire Northwood area in an attempt to stamp out the problem.
The council is now appealing for comments on the proposal by 10th October along with any information about relevant incidents people have witnessed, which can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It seems unlikely that anyone will have any complaints about the move…apart from those who will have to find somewhere else to take their giro-funded four-pack.