Herald Opinion: Street drinkers - a social issue

TRADERS and shoppers alike will welcome plans to cut the number of street drinkers in the town centre.

The council has unveiled plans to ditch the benches on the corner of Langney Road and Terminus Road, a site popular with the town’s alcoholics.

Council chiefs have proposed replacing the seats with a “performance area” which they hope will attract street performers and discourage anti-social behaviour.

One can sympathise with retailers whose livelihoods depend on making the town as a nice place to visit and it’s true the street drinkers have been a nuisance in Eastbourne’s pedestrianised area.

But it’s worth remembering these individuals won’t just disappear overnight.

The likelihood is they will just find a new place to congregate and cause problems elsewhere.

This is a social issue and not something which can be dealt with by punitive measures alone.

Street drinkers may have mental health problems, drug addiction and homelessness to contend with; issues that won’t be solved by taking away a street bench.

It’s not a soft option to try to help people with these problems but a rational long-term approach to tackling the issue.

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THEY left no stone unturned in their quest to make this year’s Eastbourne international tennis week the best ever.

So said Cllr Neil Stanley, the council’s lead member for tourism, as he playfully defended Lawn Tennis Association officials for depicting the beach around the pier as carpeted in sand rather than pebbles.

And why not? In recent memory alone, Eastbourne has had its sunniest UK town accolade stolen by the Channel Islands and its beautiful Beachy Head cliffs thieved by Dover - all in the name of marketing.

The LTA, the council and community and business leaders have worked their socks off to bring in greater support for this year’s event. Who can blame them for a bit of wishful thinking in wanting a little sand in between their toes?

Not that we are ashamed of our pebbles. And expect a hail of them back for any town that chooses to throw stones at us!