LAWS which allow people in one town to drink on the streets all day while banning it in neighbouring communities could soon be thrown out.

Police Scotland are calling for a county-wide ban on drinking in public across East Lothian.

They want to see the county, which currently has 13 different by-laws covering different towns and villages,  adopt just one by-law which prohibits it entirely.

The widely varying by-laws, which were introduced in 2008, include one for the county’s biggest town Musselburgh which bans public drinking unless those partaking are horse riders, council representatives and guests drinking outside The Ship Inn, on Market Street, from a “sipping cup” during the town’s annual ride-out parade.

In North Berwick, anyone can drink in public as long as they are doing it between 6am and 6pm, while there is a permanent ban in Haddington, Gullane and Prestonpans.

The outright ban also extends to Macmerry and Ormiston; however, in the village of Aberlady the ban is lifted from its playing fields during its summer gala between 1pm and 7pm.

Neighbouring Longniddry and also Cockenzie and Port Seton, however, have no exemption for their gala days.

Anyone who wants to celebrate Hogmanay with alcohol on the streets can only do so in Tranent and Dunbar, West Barns and John Muir Country Park, where the ban is also lifted for the night.

Police Constable Heather Bowsher, from East Lothian’s licensing department, confirmed moves were afoot to create a single by-law to stop the confusion.

She said: “We are currently working with East Lothian Council as they seek to renew the local alcohol by-law provisions in the county.

“Over the last 10 years, almost every town has expanded with new houses and areas for leisure which, as a result, means some facilities are outwith current prohibition zones.

“One by-law for the county would reduce confusion with those who live in the area and the many visitors East Lothian attracts throughout the year.

“Feedback from the local community has highlighted anti-social behaviour as one of the main concerns for local residents, with alcohol consumption a big factor in this.

“A ban on drinking in public places outside would also assist us in tackling this issue.”

The by-laws were due to expire last June but have been extended to allow further consultation.

During an East Lothian Licensing Forum workshop last week, it was claimed that Scottish Ministers, who have to approve any change, had asked Police Scotland to ‘justify’ making the ban county-wide, causing a delay.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government, however, refuted claims the change were being 'held up' saying: “It is for the local authority to decide whether to propose a by-law that would prohibit drinking in public in the local authority area.”

An East Lothian Council spokesperson said: “We have been discussing with Police Scotland the possibility of extending the by-laws on drinking in public to cover the whole of East Lothian to make the legislation easier to enforce, with the overall aim of improving public order and safety in our communities.

“Our current by-laws were due to expire last year, during a period of public consultation, so we extended the existing by-laws with the caveat that these could be changed if necessary.

“The Scottish Government has expressed a general reluctance to the introduction of legislation banning drinking in public; however, they would consider each case individually.

“We are continuing to work with Police Scotland on this and any proposed changes to the by-laws would be advertised and representations on the change would be considered by ourselves and Scottish Ministers before potentially becoming law.”