Plans to help cut crime in Norwich’s clubland were put on hold yesterday as councillors said they needed more time to consider introducing a scheme which would see a restriction on the sale of alcohol.

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At a Norwich City council licensing meeting yesterday, councillors voted to hold another meeting to discuss whether or not a public consultation about introducing early-morning restriction orders (EMROs) should take place.

Councillors were concerned that EMROs, which could see a restriction on the sale of alcohol which would apply to all licensed premises, would have a negative effect on businesses.

In a presentation by Superintendent Paul Sanford and Chief Inspector Gavin Tempest from Norfolk Constabulary, councillors heard that one in five violent crimes occur near pubs, clubs and takeaways and 33pc of crimes happen on a Saturday night.

Supt Sanford said: “EMROs need a 42-day consultation period. Christmas is a peak period for crime and we want to be in a position where if you do decide to back the EMRO, that we are ready to go so we can start it straight away.”

While EMROs restrict the hours of sale, they do not restrict the hours of opening.

However, there was concern that businesses would suffer if the orders were introduced.

Councillor Ben Price said: “If we don’t have a certain amount of late night economy then people won’t want to come here.

“Business owners have spent a lot of time building the economy.”

In August this year, bar and club owners in Prince of Wales Road voluntarily agreed to stop selling alcohol at 4am to tackle the issue of rising night-time violence.

Chief Insp Tempest added: “We also have an option to introduce a levy. There’s a small number of people using the economy between 3am and 6am.”

Supt Sanford said: “The impact of the late licenses act which was introduced in 2003 saw more bars opening instead of clubs. We have seen an increase in violence, criminal damage and theft between 3am and 6am.”

He said that the Norwich night time economy has 55 venues licensed to be open beyond midnight.

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