Spalding booze ban – it’s your call

Police Minister Mike Penning visited Boston this week, where a total drinks ban has been introduced. He told our reporter local councils had the power to get this introduced in Spalding. ANL-150403-111551001
Police Minister Mike Penning visited Boston this week, where a total drinks ban has been introduced. He told our reporter local councils had the power to get this introduced in Spalding. ANL-150403-111551001

What happens to Spalding’s street drinkers is in the hands of the community – according to police minister Mike Penning.

The Government minister for policing and crime told our reporter when he visited Lincolnshire this week: “I am a passionate believer in localism and the type of legislation we have given the local community allows them to do what the local community want.

“It’s the local councillors and local council deciding that – not us in Westminster.”

A Designated Public Places Order (DPPO) giving police officers and PCSOs the powers to confiscate alcohol from people in the town centre came into force in Spalding in December 2009.

But at Boston in January this year, a new public space protection order (PSPO) was introduced making it an offence to drink in the streets, backed with fines of up to £500 and repeat offenders potentially facing a ban from the town centre.

Since the total alcohol ban in Boston was introduced, 53 people spoken to had “complied” to cease drinking.

Mr Penning said: “No one has refused so far so no fixed penalty notices have been issued so far – so this seems to be doing the trick for us.”

The Spalding Guardian asked South Holland District Council (SHDC) why the change had not been introduced here.

A spokesperson said: “There is currently a Designated Public Place Order (DPPO) in Spalding town centre and under new legislation councils have the option to set up a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO).

“We are currently gathering evidence to see whether implementing a PSPO in Spalding is necessary.”

Mr Penning was in Lincolnshire to hear about the need for more funding after concerns were raised about funding cuts to Lincolnshire Police.

The visit, which began at the police HQ in Nettleham on Monday, was prompted by Home Secretary Theresa May following a letter sent to her by chief constable Neil Rhodes.

In his letter, Mr Rhodes spoke of his “grave concerns” for the future of the force due to the funding cuts.

Announcing a review, Mr Penning said: “We are going to have a new funding formula looked at.

“Lincolnshire Police are telling me they’re really going to struggle in 2016-17 if they are to continue to deliver what the community really needs here.”

He said a Home Office task force team was due in the county next week to review the funding and to look at how the demographics of the area have changed.

He added: “I do understand there are real issues and specialist policing that’s needed in Lincolnshire and we need to make sure they get the funding to do that.”

Lincolnshire currently receives less funding per capita population than other areas of the UK. And yet police managed to cut crime across the county on a tight budget.

Mr Penning said Lincolnshire was a victim of an ‘old-fashioned funding formula’ – but acknowledged some of the bigger towns had issues with organised crime and cyber crime, not traditionally associated with rural areas.

The MP was then given a tour of the authority’s high-tech CCTV suite and told the CCTV system assists in 800-900 arrests every year.

Following his visit to the county, Mr Neil Rhodes and Lincolnshire Police crime commissioner Alan Hardwick said they were “both pleased and encouraged” after meeting with the MP.

Mr Rhodes said: “We cannot handle even more cuts whilst maintaining the level and standard of policing that the public expects and deserves.”