OFF-LICENCES are to be asked to refrain from selling cheap super-strength alcohol in a bid to tackle street drinking in High Wycombe.
Licence holders are being urged to take part in a voluntary prohibition of cut-price high-alcohol drinks such as white cider in a bid to slash crime and disorder in the town centre.
The early proposals by Wycombe District Council could also see a concerted effort to move street drinkers out of the designated zone.
Members of the High Wycombe Town Committee backed the draft plans on Tuesday night. Council officers will now consult affected parties and report back with its findings to WDC’s Licensing Committee.
Cllr Alan Hill said he hoped agencies would get behind the idea and said, if successful, it could be rolled out across the district.
Cllr Trevor Snaith and Cllr Sebert Graham were broadly in support but said the authorities also needed to support people with drinking habits and not just keep moving them on to someone else’s doorstep.
Cllr Graham said: "There’s a problem and we cannot keep saying ‘keep going, keep going’, someone must have that responsibility."
Wycombe’s deputy area police commander, Chief Inspector Colin Seaton, believes stopping the sale of cheap high-alcohol products is a good move but does not think it is a long-term solution.
He is championing the introduction of a ‘wet room’ where street boozers can drink in a controlled environment with support workers around them.
He said: "Street drinking is often anti-social and damaging to the quality of public spaces and residential areas. The selling of super strength alcohol only increases the problem.
"The town centre has historically been an area of choice for a number of street drinkers and it has been recognised by the community as their primary policing concern in the town centre.
"Banning street drinkers may have some benefits for the community but can only be a short term measure, there are no benefits for the individual, and will not result in any positive changes to their behaviour.
"Rather than banning street drinkers, I would like to propose the introduction of a wet facility, where help, guidance and encouragement to change their lifestyle is on hand and provided by trained professionals.
"This is far more likely to be a long term solution to a local problem."
The initiative follows the lead of Westminster City Council which implemented a successful scheme in 2009.