Traders and residents in Covent Garden have launched a campaign to control pavement drinking.

Peter Scutt, manager of the Covent Garden Market, who has written to police about the problem, said it can be dangerous if too many people drink outside and take up too much of the pavement. 'Members of the public are obliged to walk into the road. It can be dangerous, there have been a few near misses.'

Wandering drinkers also leave glasses on window sills, in flower beds and gutters. Traders would like to see more use of plastic glasses to minimise damage from broken glass. Mr Scutt also argues it can be very disruptive for residents, especially if there are large, rowdy crowds of football fans on the streets. 'An individual may feel they had better cross the road to avoid any conflict. It can get a bit boisterous late at night.'

Some pubs have taken steps to control the crowds of drinkers. The Punch and Judy in the central market area employs security staff to keep customers behind a fenced outdoor area in the basement.

Chris Maynard, assistant manager, said they had proved very effective. They guard the exit during busy times and explain that customers cannot take drinks any further because the licence will not cover them.

The Roundhouse, opposite Tesco's in the busy Garrick Street, has painted a white line on the pavement outside a magic drinking circle which seems to keep the boozers within its limits.

The Lamb and Flag, in a cul-de-sac opposite, has roped off an area leading to a narrow passage way which is a well used walkthrough to Long Acre.

Westminster council, which issues licences for pavement tables, is concerned at the growing problem, especially with businesses who put more tables out than they are allowed, or do not even have a licence.

A minimum of 1.8 metres has to be free between the kerb and tables to allow pedestrians to pass.

(Photograph omitted)