Third group of street drinkers are causing the problems now

Street drinking
Street drinking

Tackling Leighton Buzzard’s street drinking problems was discussed by Leighton-Linslade Town Council’s partnership committee last week.

In the meeting on Thursday, Central Bedfordshire’s anti-social behaviour team leader Michelle Marley read from her report into the problems.

She said: “Street drinking is a country wide issue and not just particular to Leighton Buzzard.

“In 2016, there were 498 reported incidents to Bedfordshire Police related to street drinking. Of these, 18% were in relation to Leighton Buzzard – a total of 90 incidents.”

According to Ms Marley, 57% of incidents took place between 8am and 8pm, which is when the shelter available to the street drinkers is closed.

She said: “We’re looking at whether the problems are because of the shelter closing.

“We believe if there was more provision to the street drinkers through the day this would lessen the problems that Leighton Buzzard is encountering at the current time.

“To date, we’ve issued six community protection warnings, three of which got made into full community protection notices.”

According to Ms Marley, there were two groups of street drinkers who were effectively tackled but problems were being encountered with the third group.

“What we’re looking to do is apply for Police and Crime Commissioner funding, and increase the provision for street drinkers. Where that will be we don’t know.”

Cllr Ken Ferguson noted that CBC had cut funding for charities “across the board” and asked Ms Marley whether enforcement had been effective.

She said: “It did help initially but it’s not sustainable, it can’t carry on. Some people you can engage with – 50% of warnings worked.”

Tricia Humber from the Community Forum told the meeting that one of the issues lay with amending the “tight licencing” of the Black Horse shelter.

She said: “The Black Horse has the facility, the problem is getting the licencing to do it.”

The Black Horse shelter is run by Leighton Linslade Homeless Service and has capacity for 20 homeless people.

Members agreed to continue the discussion at the next meeting with invites for CBC and LLHS representatives.