COLCHESTER Council bosses have warned they may be forced to dish out fines after a big spike in boozers flouting the rules and drinking in Castle Park.

Over the bank holiday weekend, town centre police officers and council staff spoke to 120 people who were caught having a cheeky alcoholic beverage in the award-winning Colchester beauty spot.

Like most of the town centre, Castle Park is covered by a Public Space Protection Order, which bars revellers from drinking alcohol, taking drugs or causing a nuisance.

Members of the public who break the rules of the order can face a fixed penalty notice or a fine for doing so.

Colchester Council’s public safety boss Mike Lilley said the authority did not want to have to dish out financial penalties, but it would if people kept breaking the rules.

He said: “This has nothing to do with the virus at all, the Public Space Protection Order has been in place in the park for two years.

“It is in place for a reason. We do not want people to misbehave and go over the top.

“Some of these drinkers are ruining it for the families who are visiting the park.

“We want people to come along and enjoy the park but not by bringing a case of beer with them and sitting making a nuisance of themselves.

“We don’t want to issue fines and neither do the police.

“We are appealing for people to go along to the park, enjoy it but leave the alcohol at home.”

With temperatures soaring over the weekend and with all the town’s pubs closed due to lockdown restrictions, Mr Lilley said the public had likely flocked to the park to enjoy the warm weather.

He said most of the drinkers who were spoken to by officers acknowledged they were in the wrong, but a few had reacted badly to being told they had to stop.

“The weather is lovely and we are all going stir crazy but please do keep the alcohol at home,” the Old Heath and Hythe councillor said.

“Roughly 95 per cent of people the police spoke to were fine about it but some got on their case a bit and were not happy with being told to stop.

“Once again it is the small minority who could ruin it for other people.

“If the complaints continue to come in we will have to start issuing fines.”