Colr. calls for ‘on the spot’ drinking fines

Going to court for drinking alcohol in restricted areas is ridiculous and a waste of time and money.

That’s according to a local councillor who believes rather than taking those caught flouting bye laws to court, they should be handed on the spot fines.

“We need to write to the Justice Minister about this. There should just be an on the spot fine, £30, for this, “ said Sinn Fein Colr. Sean McGlinchey at a Council meeting this week. “When you take into account council time with solicitors’ fees, it’s ridiculous! I’m not saying drinking in public is right, but when you look at the time and money involved in going to court it’s a waste.”

Council heard there had been a consultation on the issue, but no changes to the Justice Order.

Ulster Unionist Colr. Edwin Stevenson believed it would be wrong to ask a police officer to demand an on-the-spot fine from someone who might be in a crowd situation and under the influence of alcohol. TUV Colr. Boyd Douglas said he didn’t think it would be right, while Sinn Fein’s Brenda Chivers asked if the issue needed more education. SDLP Colr. Micheal Coyle said people convicted at court for such an offence go to court and often get a rap on the knuckles “and at the end of the day Council has to pay for the costs”.

”If you want to make savings for ratepayers we should push for this. Let’s take that expenditure out of it. They do it in England so I can’t see why it can’t be done here!”

Council will write to Justice Minister David Ford about the issue.