‘How do you get an unemployed alcoholic to pay a £100 fine?’
That was the question echoed around the room as Kirklees Council’s plans to tackle street drinking were unveiled.
The proposals, which would cover Dewsbury and Batley town centres as well as the real ale trail, could see £100 fines issued for street drinking, public urination and irresponsible dog walking.
But members of the public raised doubts about enforcement as the plans for Public Space Protection Orders, as they would be known, were unveiled at Dewsbury and Mirfield District Committee last week.
Bruce Bird said: “While the simplification is useful, the reality is unless it is witnessed by a council officer or the police then nothing is going to happen.
“It is a commendable change but how are you going to enforce it?”
Coun Darren O’Donovan (Lab, Dewsbury West), who is the chairman of the committee, said: “I would like to give credit where credit is due – I don’t want people to think the police are incapable of catching people whose dogs have fouled or who urinate publicly.
“And it is important that we don’t stereotype particular groups.”
Further concerns were raised about public drinking and anti-social behaviour in Earlsheaton.
John Sheen said: “We need video cameras up there – giving out £1,000 fines would make the CCTV pay for itself. It’s something quick and easy.”
The proposals are part of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and give local authorities the option to combine a variety of different orders into one.
A Public Space Protection Order would be enforced in an area where anti-social behaviour is judged to have a “detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality”.
They last for three years but can be reviewed.
Last week, Trish Makepeace, the president of Dewsbury Chamber of Trade, and Barry Shaw, the operation manager at the company that owns the Old Turk and West Riding pubs in Dewsbury, welcomed any move that could curb street drinking, saying the problem was damaging for business and damaging for the town.
The plans would include a reduction to £60 for early payment and possible reductions or a discharge for completion of a “Good Citizen” course, which would only be available once. Failure to pay the fine would result in prosecution, with fines increasing to a maximum of £1,000 for most offences.
If the proposals get the go-ahead, following a consultation, they could be in places as early as October.