Hartlepool promenade and parks face drinking alcohol ban
A ban on drinking alcohol along a seaside promenade and in five public parks is likely to be approved this week.
The restriction, imposed as part of a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), would affect Hartlepool’s Seaton Promenade, Ward Jackson Park, Seaton Park, Rossmere Park, Burn Valley Gardens and Summerhill Country Park.
It follows complaints last summer about “people urinating in the streets and parks and people’s gardens” during the initial coronavirus lockdown.
A separate Parks PSPO would also prohibit riding skateboards, scooters and bicycles where they cause “annoyance, nuisance or damage” in the town’s parks.
While this second PSPO would not be a blanket ban, it would allow the courts to fine people up to £1,000 for any misbehaviour judged to be a criminal offence.
Both ideas have been recommended for the council’s neighbourhood services committee to approve on Friday.
A report from Sylvia Pinkney, council assistant director for regulatory services, notes there were 22 reports of alcohol related anti-social behaviour made to the police and council in 2019.
This increased to 38 in 2020.
She said: “Ten of these complaints were made to the council following the introduction of Covid restrictions.
“Because of the prohibition on remaining open, licensed premises in Seaton sold alcohol for consumption away from their premises.
“Patrons therefore consumed their alcohol in public areas along the promenade and varying forms of anti-social behaviour ensued.
“Public Spaces Protection Orders can offer an additional and effective enforcement tool to tackle persistent antisocial behaviour.”
A consultation exercise by the authority attracted 58 responses.
Around 90% either agreed or strongly agreed with the proposed prohibition on the public consumption of alcohol along the promenade.
Meanwhile 87% either agreed or strongly agreed with the proposal to prohibit the activities covered under the Parks PSPO.
However, Darab Rezai, representing the Hartlepool Licensees Association, has objected to the planned PSPO preventing drinking alcohol along Seaton Promenade.
He said: “If we are going to be a cosmopolitan town and be on the same playing field as other towns and countries we have got to expect to treat people with respect.
“If the PSPO is approved it means any couple or family who may like to enjoy a picnic on the seaside and open even a small bottle of bubbly, they can be prosecuted.”
Seaton ward councillors Leisa Smith and Sue Little last year called for the order to be brought in following numerous complaints from residents when bars opened for takeaway drinks over the summer.
This included “people urinating in the streets and parks and people’s gardens”.
If approved, the PSPOs would come in from April 1 this year – allowing time for them to be publicised and signs erected.
The breach of a PSPO is a criminal offence, featuring a maximum £1,000 fine, but can be dealt with through the issue of a fixed penalty notice.
The exact penalty amount for a fixed penalty notice can be determined by the local authority and can be set at any value up to £100.