Wisbech is named Alcohol Action Area

A new initiative aims to tackle problems caused by street drinking in Wisbech
A new initiative aims to tackle problems caused by street drinking in Wisbech

New measures are set to be introduced in a bid to clamp down on problems associated with street drinking in Wisbech.

The town, along with Peterborough, is among more than 30 locations listed as a Local Alcohol Action Area under new plans launched by the Home Office on Friday.

Wisbech Town Council leader David Oliver, who also chairs the Fenland Community Safety Partnership said: “Participation in this programme will enable us to tap into specialist advice and learn lessons from what works best elsewhere in the country.

“It will reinforce the joint work we are already doing and give it a sharper focus.

“Unfortunately, Wisbech has a culture of street drinking that is hard to break down, particularly given the number of off licences where cheap alcohol is readily available.

“Too often it is sold to people who are already drunk and that leads to more crime and antisocial behaviour, including shoplifting and littering. It also damages the image of the town.”

Support managers will be provided by the Home Office to lead the scheme, supported by specialist mentors.

The initiative plans to establish a new forum for off-licence operators, similar to the Pubwatch scheme for bar bosses.

A training programme will also be set up for off-licence staff to help them deal with people who attempt to buy more alcohol when they are drunk.

Mr Oliver said: “Pubwatch has done a lot to help manage problems in pubs. Now we need something similar for off licences that will do the same there, making them part of the solution rather than part of the problem.”

The town’s inclusion in the programme followed a bid lodged by Fenland District Council, on behalf of the Fenland Community Safety Partnership and the Fenland Health and Wellbeing Partnership.

Mike Cornwell, the district council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “Fenland has the lowest life expectancy of all the districts in Cambridgeshire and alcohol misuse is likely to be a significant contributory factor to that.

“Everyone needs to recognise that drinking too much has a serious impact on physical and mental health. At the same time, there is a lot of support available and we will be doing more to promote those services.”