Binge drinkers in one of Britain’s oldest towns could be given their own designated drinking zones in a bid to keep them away from other members of the public.
But critics say the move would encourage binge drinking and contradict the Government’s attempts to cut alcohol consumption.
At present problem drinkers in Colchester, Essex, are regularly moved on from public areas where they could cause a nuisance.
But proposals could mean drunks would be moved on to so-called ‘wet zones’ to continue drinking without fear of police intervention and out of the way of shoppers and tourists.
The move if introduced would be the first in the UK, although indoor facilities known as wet day centres already exist in cities such as Nottingham and Manchester.
Bob Russell, Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester, described the plan as “barking”.
He said: “We have people who are inebriated permanently, sometimes from drink, sometimes drugs, sometimes both.
“It’s a serious social problem and shoving them around the corner where people can’t see them is not a solution.”
He added: “Clearly this is something the local authorities need to address.
“We need to bring these people back into society, so they can make a meaningful contribution and not cause distress.”
Labour councillor Tim Young, who is responsible for housing and community safety, defended the plans.
He said: “That behaviour is going to continue whatever we do.
“We can put a support system in place and we’re working with the primary care trust to do that but we’ve learned over the years that people are going to continue with this behaviour.”
The former Labour Government introduced round-the-clock drinking in 2005 in the hope it would create a ‘café culture’ in Britain, in a bid to curb binge drinking.
But police chiefs, politicians, doctors and judges have blasted the move.
In April ex-Met Police chief Sir Ian Blair said the policy of all-day drinking was a “serious mistake”.
He said the aspired ‘café culture’ was never achievable for Britain and now our cities need to be saved from the chaos left behind.
Sir Ian added that the concentration of drinking establishments “has produced a pretty unpleasant atmosphere for almost everybody”.