Tunstall booze ban rids streets of yobs and drinkers
A BOOZE ban has led to a fall in anti social behaviour according to traders.
Police have confiscated alcohol from 26 individuals on 41 separate occasions since the ban in areas of Tunstall was introduced in March.
Business owners say the restrictions have had a positive impact on the atmosphere of the town centre.
Tunstall Chamber of Trade chairman Bill McDonald said: "The ban has certainly made all the difference to shoppers.
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"I think most of the traders in the centre would agree that it is a major improvement."
Mr McDonald said in the past, traders had experienced problems with groups of drinkers, particularly around Tunstall Market.
He said: "It was quite intimidating to walk past groups of people drinking, it was off-putting for shoppers.
"It didn't make for a very nice atmosphere but it seems to have improved a great deal since the ban.
"There is a danger of letting standards slip, but it is up to the police to enforce it and hopefully they will continue to do so."
The alcohol restriction zone (ARZ) gives police extra powers to deal with alcohol-related problems.
In the 12 months to the end of November 2011, police received reports of 229 incidents, including anti social behaviour, in Tower Square, High Street and the adjoining streets.
The problems led to the Chamber of Trade to present an 800-name petition to Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the ARZ was approved in February.
Market traders agree that there has been a noticeable improvement since the ban was introduced.
Hazel Speakman, who has run Fabric Lane Curtains in the market for four years, said: "It used to be quite bad outside the market with groups of people who had clearly been drinking or taking drugs.
"It was very intimidating to elderly people especially.
"You still get people stealing now and then but that's just a sign of the time rather than the drinkers."
Stall trader, Anthea Edwards who runs Message in a Bottle, said she has had fewer incidents with drunk and disorderly customers since the ban.
She said: "We have had perhaps one man come in who was clearly drunk, but apart from that there have been fewer incidents in the market place itself.
"It's just a nicer atmosphere if there aren't groups of people drinking around the place. I wouldn't want to see the ban lifted."
The ARZ does not make it illegal to drink alcohol in the town centre, but gives police greater powers to confiscate alcohol and arrest people causing problems.
Prosecutions could result in a fine of up to £500. The zone takes in the town centre, Tunstall Park and the Bankeyfields estate.
Councillor Janine Bridges, cabinet member for community safety, said: "As part of our Mandate for Change we pledged to make Stoke-on-Trent a great place to live, to attract new business and to support and develop existing businesses.
"The Alcohol Restriction Zone in Tunstall has gone a long way to helping us to achieve these aims."