Why you could be fined £500 for drinking alcohol in these Manchester locations

Fines of up to £500 for drinking in parks and streets in Manchester have been endorsed by councillors – but town hall bosses insist this is not a ‘blanket ban’.

Plans to bring in new powers to stop people consuming alcohol in public places across the city when it is associated with anti-social behaviour have been backed by the council’s communities and equalities scrutiny committee.

Under the city-wide public space protection order (PSPO), police and council officers can issue on-the-spot fines to those who do not comply with orders.

Sign up to our ManchesterWorld Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Anyone who refuses to surrender their alcohol when asked could also face prosecution with a criminal conviction and a fine of up to £500 if found guilty.

A public consultation on a city-wide PSPO to replace several similar orders covering smaller individual areas across Manchester took place last summer.

Platt Fields Park in Wilmslow Road, Manchester. Credit: Google Maps

It comes after a similar scheme was introduced in the city centre in July 2020.

Sam Stabler, community safety lead at Manchester city council, told the scrutiny committee that PSPOs are a ‘useful’ tool in tackling anti-social behaviour.

She said: “This is an additional power that can be used – an additional power that we’ve had for some time in some areas, but hasn’t been available across the city – and it gives us an extra tool to be able to address anti-social behaviour.”

Training will be provided to authorised officers who would be able to use the powers at their discretion or make referrals to alcohol abuse support services.

What has the reaction to the plan been?

But some councillors questioned whether the new powers are proportionate.

Chorlton Park councillor Dave Rowson asked why existing laws aimed at tackling anti-social behaviour are not sufficient to address the issue.

Didsbury East councillor James Wilson also raised concerns that the PSPO comes across as a prohibition on consuming alcohol in parks and streets.

Withington councillor Rebecca Moore said the ‘vast majority’ of people who meet outside for a social drink have done so without causing any problems, but she fears that the PSPO might be interpreted as a ban on drinking in parks.

She said: “I’m concerned that people will misunderstand the purpose of this.”

However, other councillors were more supportive of the PSPO proposal.

Ancoats and Beswick councillor Majid Dar said that Cutting Room Square and Woodward Street in particular would benefit from the introduction of a PSPO.

Cutting Room Square, Ancoats. Photo: Marketing Manchester

Brooklands councillor Glynn Evans said the PSPO would give police the ‘extra bits and pieces’ they need to tackle the anti-social behaviour of ‘undesirables’.

Baguley councillor Paul Andrews insisted that the scrutiny committee’s recommendation to introduce the PSPO is about anti-social behaviour.

Chorlton councillor John Hacking, who chairs the committee, agreed.

He said: “What we are recommending is that this is framed as an anti-social behaviour measure and not as an anti-street-drinking or anti-enjoying-yourself-in-the-park measure.”

If the PSPO is supported by the executive, it must be signed off by the strategic director for neighbourhoods and could come into force this spring.

Rusholme councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, who will be consulted on the decision as executive member for neighbourhoods, welcomed the recommendations.

He said: “This is not a blanket ban on street drinking and drinking in parks. This is specifically about anti-social behaviour. This is a bug bear for residents.”

An appeal to the high court can be made within six weeks of the PSPO order.