A DRINKING ban is to be introduced in the grounds of a mosque blighted by anti-social behaviour, as well as a nearby homeless hostel.

The ban on drinking will come into force at the Central Mosque and in the grounds of St Paul's Hostel, Tallow Hill.

The order will give police powers to arrest people if they refuse to stop drinking when asked.

It follows repeated complaints about anti-social behaviour in the area, close to Shrub Hill railway station, as a result of drinking alcohol.

Coun Francis Lankester, cabinet member for safer and stronger communities, said: "I noticed there was a problem quite some time ago around the mosque and the hostel.

"It is not a good advert for the city when people arrive in Worcester and the first thing they see is people drinking and behaving unpleasantly.

"The police have been very supportive of the ban and approved it."

The order has been praised by Malik Fayaz, chairman of the Muslim Welfare Association and regular at the Central Mosque.

He said: "This was a big problem for the mosque, particularly children and the elderly, who were made to feel very uncomfortable by people hanging around drinking and shouting.

"The problem had actually increased recently - people used to congregate nearby and leave beer cans around.

"It is very good to know the council is bringing in this order and we all have to work in partnership to ensure it is effective."

As reported in the Worcester News at the time, the council brought in a drinking ban at St Clement's Church, Tallow Hill industrial estate and the shopping precinct in Lichfield Avenue, Ronkswood, last February.

That followed a previous ban on boozing in the city centre and at St John's Church in Bromyard Road, St John's.

Chris Ashcroft, manager of St Paul's hostel, said: "Our perspective is slightly different from everyone else's, because we have people staying here who drink," he said.

"Having said that we do welcome the order. We only object when people get violent or loud, which sometimes does happen. It gives police some leverage."

A police spokesman said: "We welcome this initiative, as indeed we welcome any steps which support our role in dealing with anti-social behaviour and disorder."

The order is to be approved by the city council's cabinet at Guildhall tonight.