Tackling issues of underage drinking


Underage drinking and street drinking can be taboo subjects, as no one likes to admit they are a problem.

However, following concerns by Biggleswade residents, Central Bedfordshire Community Safety Partnership is working with partners to address the two issues.

On Wednesday, March 30, a Community Alcohol Partnership will be launching in the town.

Community Alcohol Partnerships bring together different organisations and businesses including councils, police, health services, schools, local shops and licensees to tackle underage drinking and street drinking and associated antisocial behaviour.

The Biggleswade CAP is significant because not only is it the first in Central Bedfordshire, it is also the 100th nationwide.

Two events will be taking place in the town between 1pm and 5pm on 30 March.

The first will be in Market Square from 1pm to 3pm where there will be performance artists, stalls and other attractions.

Henry Maybury, a singer-songwriter whose debut song Lost Days was about his brother’s death from alcohol addiction will be performing there.

The video has received more than a million views on YouTube and proceeds from all its sales go to addiction charities.

Meanwhile, spoken word poet Laura Walsh will be performing a range of her thought-provoking work about subjects such as antisocial behaviour and gang culture.

Visitors will be able to take a virtual drive in Oscar, which allows you to see first hand the impact of driving under the influence of alcohol.

There will also be information stalls and goody bags being given away, while the police will be carrying out bike marking and Dr Bike will be offering free bike maintenance.

Various partners will also be in attendance, including ELFT (East London Foundation Trust), the council’s commissioned service provider for substance misuse, who will be offering advice about dealing with alcohol.

The second event will be from 3pm to 5pm at Biggleswade Youth Club, where there will be plenty of fun events for teenagers including a chance to make mocktails (non-alcoholic cocktails) and speak with representatives from Groundwork.

The commissioned service, which Central Bedfordshire Council provides to young people, has helped to change lives for the better.

Both events are designed to get people thinking about the harm they can cause to themselves by drinking, the impact of street drinking, plus promote alternatives to drinking on the streets and places they can seek help if needed.

Councillor Brian Spurr, Executive Member for Communities Services said: “Underage drinking and street drinking are difficult and often taboo topics. However, we are keen to improve the lives of all affected by them which is why we are taking part in this pilot scheme in Biggleswade.

“If people realise there are places where they can go rather than just drinking on the street, and places where they can get help, then that can only be of benefit to everyone.

“Establishing stronger communities which actively look after one another will play a vital role in safeguarding young people, particularly those on the periphery of alcohol addition.”

Alistair Burt, MP for North-East Bedfordshire and Minister for Community and Social Care, welcomed the scheme.

He said: “Teenagers may not think about the effects of alcohol, but starting to drink heavily when you are young can have a knock-on effect in later life on both your physical and mental health.

“By acting now to address the situation then this will have benefits for young people’s health and have cost savings as they will not need to rely on health and support services later in life.”

For more information about the pilot scheme or tackling street drinking, visit www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/cap