Page last updated at 15:59 GMT, Monday, 25 August 2008 16:59 UK

Picnic to protest over booze bans

Tube alcohol ban party
Thousands partied on the Tube on the eve of the London transport drink ban

A campaign group has organised a picnic in Hyde Park to protest against what they say is a "creeping" increase in no-alcohol zones in UK public spaces.

The Manifesto Club, which is against regulation of public spaces, said it questions "paternalistic" rules and wants to "reclaim" community areas.

The group said blanket booze bans have been imposed in 613 public spaces.

The group also criticised the ban on alcohol on some public transport in London which came into effect in June.

The Provocation Picnic Against the Booze Bans will also see the group launch its report which shows how the areas where alcohol is banned has increased in the past few years.

Councils 'too bureaucratic'

A statement from the group said: "We oppose booze bans, and all other paternalistic regulation of public space.

"We believe public space should be exactly that - a place where we can come together as a public."

It added it was also opposed to the "puritanical move" which prevents alcohol being sold to under-21s.

James Panton, from the Manifesto Club, said: "These (bans) have generally been introduced not with big public debate or not with big public discussion, not as a result of public demand but actually by councils being a bit too bureaucratic, a bit too scared of people getting together."

The group said its members had been at the party on the Tube, held on the eve of the alcohol ban brought in on Transport for London services in June, to hand out leaflets to protest against the restriction.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "It is not our policy to completely ban the drinking of alcohol in public but to make sure that the police and local authorities have the tools and powers that they need to tackle drinking in public where it is problematic and a nuisance to the local community."

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