A bid by council chiefs to combat booze-fuelled crime by serving up a ban on new town centre pubs and takeaways has moved a step closer to winning the green-light.
Plans set up to tackle anti-social behaviour and drunken disorder – by extending a zone in South Shields town centre which restricts new licenced premises from opening and puts tight restrictions on opening hours for existing outlets – was recommended for approval by South Tyneside Council cabinet members.
This new policy aims to strengthen licensing restrictions in the town centre to ensure that crime and disorder levels remain as low as possibleTracey Dixon
The South Shields town centre cumulative impact policy zone is already in force in Anderson Street North, Coston Drive, Mile End Road and part of King Street and Ocean Road – a busy stretch, which incorporates 25 premises.
Cabinet members gave the thumbs-up to proposals to expand the zone to take in the area between Fowler Street, Anderson Street and up to Beach Road – and to include hot food takeaways, open between 11pm and 5am in the scheme.
A final decision on whether the tightened restrictions will be brought into force will be made at a full council meeting at South Shields Town Hall on December 3.
If agreed, the extended zone would be implemented in January.
Under the plans – which are being put forward as part of the renewal of the council’s licensing policy – applications for new licensed premises or extensions to opening hours in this zone would generally be refused due to the potential negative impact on licensing objectives.
Councillor Tracey Dixon, lead member for Area Management and Community Safety, says the number of pubs, clubs and takeaways in the town centre can ‘lead to problems of crime and disorder’.
Coun Dixon said: “As the council renews its Licensing Act Policy, it is important to take into account the rise in the number of licensed premises and activity within the special policy area.
“The type, capacity and density of pubs, clubs, restaurants and hot food takeaways can lead to problems of crime and disorder, anti-social behaviour and nuisance.
“The link between alcohol and crime and disorder is well documented, not to mention the impact of alcohol on people’s health and on the emergency services.
“The town centre is a mixed residential and commercial area. This new policy aims to strengthen licensing restrictions in the town centre to ensure that crime and disorder levels remain as low as possible.”
The revised licensing policy would also incorporate mandatory conditions, which have become set in law over recent years in relation to irresponsible drinks promotions, age verification policies, provision of free drinking water, the offer of smaller measures of alcohol and prohibition of sales at below cost price.