Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Look out! Worst Street’s
getting tough again

Clap your hands; Boston has notched up another first.
The fattest, most murderous town in the universe is now going to war on a solitary drinker who won’t take no for any answer when told to stop imbibing under the town’s Public Space Protection Order – pronounced Spo for short.
The Spo has barely been in force for five minutes – well, since January last year … when council leader ‘Nipper Bedford’ and his fellow prohibitionist Stephen Woodliffe poured a ceremonial can of lager down a drain to show just how tough the council was going to get.
Spos replaced DPPOs – Designated Public Protection Orders – which were introduced in 2007 to stop drinking in the street.
When the DPPOs were defined, Boston Borough Council secured almost £7,000 in grants from regional and national funds to spend £4,000 on extra police officers and Police Community Support Officers to “clamp down” in the  first few weeks of the ban; £1,500 on education prior to the  and £1,400 for signs and publicity.
The outcome?
People carried on drinking.
The Spo which replaced the DPPO was underpinned by Community Protection Orders which threatened a maximum fine of £1,000 – and again came at a cost. Nine years later the bill to promote Worst Street’s even tougher new stance was £10,000 for publicity, signage   and “appropriate information and literature.”
The outcome?
People carried on drinking.
Now, Worst Street is throwing good money after bad by asking the prosecution service to pursue the case of the single drinker – who stops drinking when asked but then apparently continues as if nothing had happened.
Aside from the usual Sledgehammer v Nut approach that Worst Street favours so much, is the glaringly obvious fact that no use whatever appears to have been made of the powers possessed by the council and the police at present.
Try as we might, we cannot recall anyone being taken to court for repeat offending – even though this ought to have been an early next step.
Severe fines that were boasted about do not seem to have been imposed – and we fail to see how raising the maximum penalty from £1,000 to £2,500 will help, given that the lower penalty has not been brought into play.
We would have thought that a fine of £1,000 – if repeatedly levied for persistent breaches of the law – would soon have stopped the offender.
Or if they went unpaid the use of imprisonment would have done the trick. Instead, the all mouth and no trousers brigade at Worst Street merely makes itself look increasingly foolish by crying wolf over a serious issue that requires dealing with.
Lastly, we were stuck by a quote from a council officer in one of our local “newspapers” who reportedly said: “Whilst many people would like us to place a sniper on top of the Stump to stop people drinking that way, we’re not allowed.”
Anywhere else but Boston and you would think he was joking!

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