A FORMER Winchester City councillor has accused his successors of merely 'displacing' anti-social drinkers by erecting new fencing outside Kings Walk.

Speaking at a Winchester Town Forum meeting on Thursday, Ian Tait said the authority has simply papered over the cracks by replacing the old crenellated brick walls next to the South Downs Social cycle cafe with the new picket fencing.

The authority previously said it was "responding to the concerns of local businesses and shoppers" affected by a small group of people who often sat on what was formerly dubbed 'drinkers wall' during the day.

However, Mr Tait has since said the council's solution has only served to move to drinkers to other parts of the city centre, insisting more positive outreach is required for a long-term fix.

He said: "My worry is that all this has achieved is a displacement of street drinkers to other locations, and in fact, as some of us will have seen on our way here tonight there are 15 or 16 people in St Maurice's Covert with alcohol in open display."

The city council is undertaking work to revamp the 1970s Kings Walk arcade before the building is demolished as part of the Central Winchester Regeneration, also known as Silver Hill.

Winchester's city centre first became an alcohol exclusion zone in 2005, meaning the authorities have the power to fine and arrest anyone caught boozing in certain area. But Mr Tate has said such powers are too infrequently used.

He said: "We have an alcohol exclusion zone but there is no enforcement of that whatsoever."

He called for greater powers to be brought in. 

He added: "If I were a parent bringing a child into Winchester, what is the impression given to that young person, to see people who are in a state of real physical distress because of drink and drugs.

"The sadness is some of these people are real interesting characters and their lives are being frittered away by the lack of positive intervention. The solution isn't for them to die from drink or drugs, surely what we all want is for them to be supported and a route to some semblance of self esteem and good health. I make a real plea that we extend a hand of help and assistance to these people - it is not good for Winchester for a whole myriad of reasons."

Councillor Paula Ferguson, who has recently taken on the portolio of housing and community, said: "It is a concern, you can stop people being in one place but their problems don't go away. It is something the council takes really seriously and does want to resolve so I will take this issue away with my cabinet hat on."

Councillor John Tippett Cooper said: "I used to work in homelessness services before my current career and have some understanding of the challenges the homeless community experience - often even after they have been rehomed.

"I think you and I would agree the cause of a lot of these problems is the curse of addiction.

"It is such a complex issue, and I disagree with what you said about a lack or positive intervention, there is a lot of great outreach work which goes on in the city."