Fines will be sobering tonic

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DRINK-fuelled festive revellers can quite often ruin a night out for people who make a rare trip to the city centre at night.

The experience can deter them from returning - damaging our night-time economy and making city centres a place to be avoided.

That is a shame because there are plenty of great venues, restaurants and pubs which would benefit from that extra spend.

Christmas time is one of those peaks where drunken and rowdy behaviour by men and women is at its height.

So the police decision to issue on-the-spot fines is one that should be welcome.

It may not stop the rowdy behaviour - after all that is probably not something you are thinking about as you knock back another shot or alcopop.

But the fines will work in nipping any trouble in the bud - it will soon sober people up.

Some may argue that pubs have a responsibility to ensure they don’t serve people who are obviously drunk - but why should the onus be on them?

We don’t want to live in a nanny state and at the age of 18 and beyond everyone should take responsibility for their own actions - and when they cross that line - it is then up to the police to take action for that behaviour.

Making the city centre a more welcoming place for people who want to enjoy a night out and return has to be the aim and if fining those who spoil that experience is the answer - then that has to be a good move.

Residents need to be won over

IT is perfectly understandable that residents do not want to have a crisis centre for people with mental health issues on their doorstep.

The recent case of Hannah Bonser who murdered Casey Kearney and then returned to her residential care home is still fresh in the memory.

So a decision to create a “safe haven” in a suburb for sufferers of mental illness is bound to cause alarm.

Residents will not only be concerned because of the sort of “neighbours” they will now be living next to, but also for the detrimental impact that will have on their property prices.

Rethink Mental Illness argue that the home will be for people who do not pose any risk to others and, in fact, are more likely to be victims of crime than the perpetrators of it.

Unfortunately, the myths and stigma surrounding mental illness drown out the facts. If Rethink wants to win over the residents they are going to have to work very hard to overcome those concerns.