The Millfield Problem

Piecemeal efforts to disrupt public drinking will have no effect, as the problem is now so widespread that only a complete ban will do, according to two Peterborough City councillors. Broadcast at 08:10 on Wednesday 28th July 2010 in the Peterborough Breakfast Show hosted by Paul Stainton on BBC Cambridgeshire.

STAINTON: City councillors have come out and criticised the amount of street drinking in Peterborough. On our Facebook site, by the way, so many people commenting, all against drinking on the streets. It should be banned totally according to most people who commented on our Facebook site. But it comes as councillors have passed new powers to make parts of Fletton and Woodston effectively a no drink zone. Earlier we spoke to Inspector Matt Snow about the order, which will cover the Recreation Ground just off Oundle Road. (TAPE)
INSPECTOR: A DPPO is a Designated Public Place Order, and that enables local authorities to identify public places where they believe there’s problems with nuisance behaviour which are linked to the consumption of alcohol. So in this area in particular it’s going to become an offence in the Woodston Recreation Area after being stopped by an officer or PCSO to drink alcohol. (LIVE)
STAINTON: Well on the phone is North Ward councillor Charlie Swift, also a Member of the Council’s Alcohol Licensing Committee, alongside Councillor Nazim Khan who represents Central Ward. Good morning to you both. And I’m sure you’ve got plenty to say on the subject. But first of all, Charlie, should we just have a blanket ban on this across Peterborough?
SWIFT: Well I think Nazim will come in on that. Definitely. There will be up to fifty plus people today, all over the city, but particularly in the Central and the North and the Park ward area, that will be drinking. I attended a meeting last evening where people were complaining to the police about the drinking at the Bluebell, in the Rocket Park, and the Fulbridge Road Recreation Ground. I can leave home now any minute now. I can go by Brotherhood’s Field where they’ll be eight or nine people drinking. The Triangle fountain will be full with people there. Outside Lincoln Road Boys School there’ll be several. Going to the New England Recreation Ground exactly the same. Going to Nazim’s area, Gladstone Park and all that particular area there’ll be nine or people there. They’ll be under the footpaths at the Maskew Avenue. And they’ll stand there urinating. It’s one hell of a mess. And we’ve got to grasp it. The problems out at Fletton. whilst I fully agree with what the Council have decided to do, they’re piffling beside what we’ve got in our areas.
STAINTON: Yes. And Nazim, why do people think it’s acceptable to walk about the streets with a can in their hand, and go boozing in the day in parks? When I was a kid I wouldn’t have dreamed of it. I think I had a bit more respect for people, a bit more self worth really. (PAUSE) Oh Nazim’s not there at the moment. We’ll try and get him back in just a second. Charlie, you mentioned your problems in your ward which were much worse. Will you be looking for one of these Orders then?
SWIFT: In my ward? No I think it’s silly, with greatest respect it’s stupid putting a little planning thing in a recreation ground over Fletton. It’s city wide. It’s a cancer that’s running through the whole of the city. The sad part about it is the majority of people are over about twenty five years of age, and with the greatest respect, ninety per cent of them are coming from Eastern European countries. They’ve been probably made redundant, they’re unemployed. As you know the benefits are much better over here than going back to where they came from. And it’s a very very big social problem. We’d have had three or four, we’d have called them winos, we’d get accustomed to those, or tramps, years ago they called them. having a drink here and there. But this is rife now. And these people are everywhere. And it’s sad in some respects to see them.
STAINTON: It just looks awful as well. And Nazim, I believe we’ve got you now. Nazim, I was posing the question why do people think it’s acceptable these days? It wasn’t when I was a kid.
KHAN: I don’t think people are saying it’s acceptable. I think ..
STAINTON: No the people that are doing it I mean. They seem to think it’s acceptable.
KHAN: Yes I think the people that come from, as Charles was saying earlier, from Eastern Europe. I think in those states it was acceptable to have a drink there. But what they don’t realise here is that this is a different place, and a different atmosphere. So we’ve got a hell of a problem here. To have a small area of a place where no alcohol is allowed, it just puts the problem from one area to another. So I think we seriously need to think about having a blanket ban on alcohol, simply just to educate people that to come a different country that there are different customs and rules and regulations here.
STAINTON: We’re going to hear from the Government later today I think on twenty four hour drinking, and possibly that’s going to be withdrawn. Has that exacerbated the problem?
KHAN: It certainly has. Before that up to eleven o’clock it used to be Ok. But here in the small area that Central ward has, there’s sixty six off-licences within that small compact area. And obviously if you have that many off-licences, you are going to have people buying cans of beer and then drinking. People don’t mind having a drink, but have respect. You can drink at the back of your garden. You can drink in your house. But don’t drink while you’re on the bike, having a can of beer in your hand.
STAINTON: Yes. And Charlie, if Nazim does put it to the Council that we should have a blanket ban, will you be one who’ll be supporting?
SWIFT: It’ll get my one hundred and one per cent support. He said he’s got sixty in his area. I’ve got about forty in mine. That one square mile, one and a half miles from New England down to the city centre, I’ll bet you’ve got sixty or seventy places where people can get alcohol. And of course even if there is a ban put on drinking, or drinking hours, they can go to these supermarkets and they can fetch them away, and they’ll get round it unless there’s a proper, as Nazim says, a proper blanket ban.
STAINTON: Yes. But it’s enforcing it isn’t it? As I said to the police officer in the first hour, I walked down Cross Strreet the other day. There was a lady, I call her a lady, pushing a push-chair with her left hand, a can of lager in her right hand with a fag. It was incredibly dextrous but it wasn’t very nice.
SWIFT: You see a chap who’s walking the children home from school with a can of beer in one hand, and they’ll stop and have a slash with the kid with them in another hand. I mean it’s not on.
STAINTON: No. How do we police it though Charlie? Itr’s all right bringing the ban in.
SWIFT: Well hang on a minute. With the police we’re going to get more .. there’s going to be massive cuts in the police service. But we are told, and I’m going out this evening with a young lady, a PCO, for a four hour cycle ride all round these areas, and point them out to her. If we’ve got more of these PCOs or people on the beat, and more seen to be, and people going and tackling and telling them what exactly to do. People take the micky out of such as Nazim and I and other councillors, when you can go up, and people can’t shop at New England, and if they do shop they go to Spar or the bakery or somewhere like that. They’ll look out the window and they see people standing there under the fountain, having a slash in broad daylight, and police cars will run by but they never stop.
STAINTON: No. And in my day you just wouldn’t have dared. But it is a sad picture of the city that you paint Charlie and Nazim. Charlie Swift, Leader of the Independent Forum on Peterborough City Council, and Nazim Khan, a Labour councillor for the Central ward, who both would support a blanket ban on drinking in public across the city of Peterborough.