Council should have stayed firm over
legal high ban

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Seven months ago Portsmouth City Council was instrumental in closing down a shop selling legal highs in the city centre.

It felt so strongly that in conjunction with the police its lawyers went to magistrates to obtain the closure order for Gypsy King’s cafe in Commercial Road.

At the time a police officer told The News: ‘These substances are extremely dangerous and certainly not safe for consumption.

‘They can cause individuals to act otherwise than they normally would.’

He said the anti-social behaviour linked to that cafe had had an impact on the local community, ‘individuals, families and businesses’.

That was in April this year.

Seeking a closure order for a business is not a step taken lightly by any local authority, but the city council felt so strongly about this case, it was compelled to join the police in taking action.

Today, just seven months later, we report that the very same council has scrapped plans to ban the use of these synthetic drugs in public spaces.

Nothing has changed in the intervening months except that several more lives in the city have been wrecked by the addiction to legal highs.

Strange then that the Tory environment and community safety boss, Councillor Rob New, should say today there was not enough evidence to suggest legal highs caused anti-social behaviour.

Mixed messages? Absolutely.

Having gone down the road of closing an outlet for the highs, the council should have kept its course and, as with alcohol, banned them from being consumed in public spaces across the city.

Of course it would not have stopped people obtaining legal highs, but it might have made our streets and parks safer.