Residents will soon face tighter controls on street drinking in the town centre after a protection order was approved by Harrogate Borough Council.
At Wednesday night's Cabinet meeting (June 29), the council approved a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) to be put in place for the town centre.
The order will be in place for a 12 month period and is designed to tackle anti-social behaviour as a result of drinking in public.
Whilst the PSPO order doesn't ban street drinking in the town centre, police now have the power to ask people to stop drinking and surrender their alcohol.
A refusal to hand over the alcohol will be an offence and result in a fixed penalty notice of up to £100, reduced to £75 if the notice is paid within 14 days.
Councillor Mike Chambers is Harrogate Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Safer Communities. He said:
“This Public Spaces Protection Order should make a real difference to people’s experience of Harrogate town centre as well as improving life for businesses and residents in certain areas.
“The PSPO doesn’t represent a drinking ban – rather, it is a measure aimed at cutting down on the antisocial behaviour that is the result of street drinking.
“The aim is not to just move the problem elsewhere but to provide the necessary support and help where it is needed as well as improving the atmosphere in the town centre for locals and visitors alike.”
The PSPO order was developed following a number of concerns raised from business and the public about the rise of anti-social behaviour incidents across the town.
At a public meeting held in February. residents and businesses complained that 'intimidating' street drinkers were selling drugs, urinating in alleyways and brawling across the town centre.
Following a public consultation, the PSPO will begin in mid-July and will apply to the town centre and the railway and bus station, Victoria Shopping Centre, Victoria Multi Storey Car Park and Jubilee Multi Storey Car Park.
North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan said: “Residents and businesses have told me again and again that drinking in the town centre is a huge concern and that’s why I’ve been working hard with them to ensure that the problem is tackled.
“It’s not fair for a few people to spoil the quality of life of residents and the behaviour has had a significant impact on businesses in the town centre.
"The Public Space Protection Order is a positive new tool that will help both the council and the police deal with drinkers who behave badly.”
A PSPO order for Harrogate town centre is just one of the measures that the council, police and other support agencies have developed following concerns from businesses and the public about the anti-social behaviour linked to street drinking across the town.
Other measures include working with street drinkers to highlight treatment and support services and the police using additional powers such as dispersal notices. The council’s licensing team have already completed checks on alcohol retailers to remind them of their licensing conditions.