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Drinks ban plan at universities.

Byline: BY LARRY NEILD City Editor

DRINKING in public could effectively be banned around Liverpool's two university campuses as part of plans to extend the city's alcohol-free zone.

Student leaders last night raised concerns the proposed "prohibition" could mean the end for convivial picnics in areas such as historic Abercromby Square.

It is part of plans to create one of the country's biggest alcohol-free zones, stretching from the Kings Dock up to and including the Royal Liverpool University Hospital.

Last night, the city's only Green Party councillor, John Coyne, revealed he has also asked police for a "free zone" in the city centre to be allocated for homeless drinkers.

He also wants smaller alcohol-free areas around railway stations and areas close to stations, such as Priory Woods in Aigburth.

Alcohol-free zones were initially introduced around Liverpool city centre five years ago in a bid to curb alcohol-related violence and loutish behaviour at night time.

It focused on areas where crowds of revellers regularly gathered, such as Victoria Street, Mathew Street and Concert Square.

If councillors agree, the new rules will mean fines of up pounds 500 for people consuming alcohol in streets and public areas.

But the Liverpool Guild of Students is concerned the ban could stop students enjoying al-fresco gatherings, which for many can be an inexpensive way to wind down after lectures.

Darran Martin, newly-elected Guild president. said: "I will be carefully studying these proposals during the consultation phase to see if there is any impact on us."

Cllr Coyne said he fears banning the homeless from drinking in the city centre will force homeless people into the suburbs, where there is a higher risk of problems.

He said: "In order not to criminalise or further criminalise people who are homeless, the order should be accompanied by a plan to introduce a managed safe drinking area."

The move is to be debated at a meeting of the council's Environment Regulatory Committee tomorrow.

It will still mean alcohol being allowed in the streets on special occasions, such as the Mathew Street Festival.

Parts of the city centre are currently covered by a bye-law giving police power to control drinking of alcohol in the streets.

That order expires at the end of August, and now Merseyside Police want a replacement plan covering a much larger area. If the committee agrees to the extended area there will be a public consultation exercise.

Senior Merseyside police officers have told council officials the existing bye-law to combat serious assaults and attacks using glass bottles and glasses, has been a huge success in Liver pool.

Merseyside Police area commander for Liverpool North, Chief Supt Andy Ward said: "Since the implementation of the bye-law the economy of the city centre has increased greatly."

larryneild@dailypost.co.uk

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Students enjoying a drink in a Students Union bar' A sign warning people not to drink
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 8, 2006
Words:480
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