OFFICIALS are changing their plans for a wet zone for drunks in Colchester.

Councillors proposed an outside, police-free alcohol zone to rid St Botolph’s Circus underpass of antisocial alcoholics.

It is thought the wet zone will now be an indoor drinking area and will be set up on a trial basis, but officials would not reveal where the proposed location is.

It is thought that Colchester independent homeless charity the April Centre, in Mersea Road, could take on the project.

Colchester Council executive director Ian Vipond said the Safer Colchester Partnership, made up of the council, NHS North East Essex and the emergency services, had agreed to provide an indoor wet zone.

He added: “They have agreed in principle to proceed with a trial, provided the details can be worked through.

“It would be run, by a charity, as a trial, so part of this is, let’s see if it works.

“The idea of providing a safe location for alcohol addicts to meet – somewhere where the various health services and ourselves know where they were, would enable us to provide support and advice to them.

“It would also mean they would be out of areas where they cause, on occasions, some concern to the public.

“A site has been mentioned within the outer boundaries of the town centre.

“They just need to make sure they don’t need planning permission or other approvals.”

David Egan, of the April Centre, said plans for a new drop-in centre in Colne Bank Avenue are not part of plans for a wet zone.

He added: “Colne Bank Avenue is a day centre and would be open two days a week.

“We are keen to have a new day centre up and running, but that would be a dry zone. A wet zone takes a lot more infrastructure.

“We have been in some discussion with the council, but nothing is set in stone at the moment.

“The April Centre has a good history with homeless people and we house a lot of street drinkers, so it is something we are keen to be involved in.”

Colchester police said it is continuing with Operation Tertiary, which was launched in January to disperse drunks from churchyards across the town.

But officers have said they can only move people and will continue to do so until there is a long-term solution.