Bid to tighten restrictions on town centre businesses in South Shields on the agenda

Councillor Tracey Dixon.
Councillor Tracey Dixon.

Councillors will run the rule over plans to tighten licensing restrictions for businesses in the heart of South Shields’ town centre next week - in a bid to tackle booze-fuelled crime and disorder.

South Tyneside Council cabinet members will discuss plans to extend an enforcement zone already in place which restricts new licensed premises from opening, and limits applications for extended hours from existing businesses, in an area which is densely populated with pubs, clubs and restaurants.

The South Shields Town Centre’s Cumulative Impact Policy zone already incorporates 25 licensed premises in Anderson Street North, Coston Drive, Mile End Road and part of King Street and Ocean Road.

However, councillors will debate whether to rubber-stamp plans to expand the area to take in the stretch between Fowler Street, Anderson Street and up to Beach Road, and to include hot food takeaways, open between 11pm and 5am, at a town hall meeting on November 4.

Cabinet members will be asked to recommend approval of the new zone for a decision by South Tyneside Borough Council on the matter, as they also consider recommending a string of proposed revisions to the Council’s Licensing Act Policy.

It is presumed that applications for new licensed premises or extensions to opening hours in this zone would generally be refused, when relevant representations are received due to the potential negative impact on licensing objectives.

However, the council says it considers each licensing application on its own merits.

If given the green-light, the bolstered restrictions would come into force in January.

Coun Tracey Dixon, Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety, 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 Council’s Licensing Act Policy sets out a framework for making fair and consistent licensing decisions and is being updated to ensure it reflects changes in legislation, latest Government guidance, case law and experience over recent years.

The revised 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.

The new policy would also recognise the increase in the number of temporary event notices per premises from 12 to 15 notices, up to 168 hours, over a 12 month period effective from January 2016. It would also acknowledge the role and impact of licensing applications on Public Health as well as highlighting the impact of alcohol within the Borough.

The proposed revisions come after widespread consultation between the council with partners, local businesses and the public over the summer.