PLANS to outlaw public boozing in Peebles, Galashiels, Hawick and Eyemouth have taken a step forward.

Councillors voted by 19 to 13 for holding a second stage consultation over the four proposed pilot alcohol bylaws.

The prohibition plans follow on from an initial consultation held during the summer.

A spokesman for Scottish Borders Council said: "Councillors have agreed to hold a consultation on introducing pilot alcohol bylaws.

"It follows an initial consultation which ran from March to June this year.

"That looked to establish whether or not people thought the drinking of alcohol in public places was a problem that needed to be addressed.

"While a wide variety of views were given, councillors have agreed that a second stage consultation should be carried out to consider options in more detail.

"This will specifically ask whether or not bylaws should be brought in for four towns - Hawick, Galashiels, Eyemouth and Peebles, on a pilot basis."

The initial consultation showed that most people in the Borders felt there wasn’t a problem with public drinking. 

Of the 392 respondents who expressed a view, 217 said there wasn’t a problem, while 175 said they thought there was. 

However, a further 99 said they didn't know, meaning that neither response represents a majority of public opinion. 

In November 2018, council officers suggested bringing in alcohol bylaws which could see people fined up to £500 for drinking in public in designated areas. 

Public bodies such as NHS Borders and Police Scotland remain in favour of the bylaws, but at a meeting of Scottish Borders Council in December, councillors opted to consult on the public before introducing any prohibition. 

NHS Borders, Borders Alcohol and Drug Partnership and Scottish Borders Children and Young People’s Leadership Group provided a joint response during the initial consultation.

It stated: "Alcohol consumption can take place in our communities’ private space as well as within licensed premises. 

“Not allowing people to drink in a public place will help to reduce the normalisation of alcohol being an ordinary commodity and builds communities and environments that supports a culture change and reduces exposure for our children and young people. 

“Public drinking can adversely affect the quality of life for residents and our communities. 

“Alcohol bylaws can be used as an additional tool to reduce the nuisance and disorder normally associated with public drinking."