New licensing powers sought to control spread of nightspots
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New powers could be used to help limit the spread of bars and clubs in Norwich city centre, as police and council leaders look to cut alcohol-fuelled crime and violence.
Officers at Norfolk Constabulary are currently pulling together evidence of the problems they have to face when policing Norwich’s clubbing district.
Police will present that evidence to the city council, so City Hall can bring in tighter controls on when, and where, clubs and pubs can open.
If the council adopts what is known as a cumulative impact policy, it means it will be able to better manage which premises it grants drinks licenses to, within a defined area.
The area covered will almost certainly focus on Prince of Wales Road and Riverside - the heart of Norwich’s late-night drinking zone.
With that policy in place it would mean that councillors would have a stronger case to turn down a licensing application from a bar or club - by arguing allowing it to sell alcohol would add to current problems of crime and disorder.
Inspector Ed Brown, from Norfolk Constabulary’s licensing team said: “Norfolk police are currently working on a report that would support the introduction of cumulative impact special policy in Norwich city centre.
“The evidence provided would form part of any public consultation by Norwich City Council, and help determine where any cumulative impact zone would be appropriate.
“Our interest is in protecting the public and supporting a safe and vibrant night-time economy in Norwich.
“When a significant number of licensed premises operate in one area, it can impact on levels of crime and anti-social behaviour as well as on front line resources.”
The report would need to go before the city council’s licensing committee and then be put out for public consultation.
Jo Henderson, Green city councillor for Thorpe Hamlet ward, said the legislation was “long overdue”.
She said: “At present the licensing committee has very limited power over this area which impacts greatly on the residents of my ward in particular.
“I would ask that this matter be brought before the licensing committee at the earliest opportunity so that we can then send it out for consultation and let the public have some influence on this issue.”
Norwich City Council’s controlling Labour cabinet recently approved a 12-point action plan to tackle problems with the night time economy in the city centre.
Gail Harris, Norwich City Council’s portfolio holder for customer service, said: “Work is progressing on all points raised and, in particular, around improvements to CCTV, taxi marshalling, traffic regulation orders, working with the clubs to give greater access to toilet provision and recognition from the police to provide improved cover to the area.”
Last month, Green city councillor Ben Price and Liberal Democrat Norwich South MP Simon Wright met Home Office minister Norman Baker to discuss alcohol-fuelled problems.
Mr Price, who represents Thorpe Hamlet, had highlighted the use of a Cumulative Impact Policy in a report he drew up into tackling anti-social behaviour, after a public meeting which discussed the issue last year.
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