Norwich city centre ‘saturated’ with bars, pubs and clubs, say police, as new powers sought to tackle violence

A man is arrested on Prince of Wales Road in Norwich. Pic: Rob Colman.

A man is arrested on Prince of Wales Road in Norwich. Pic: Rob Colman. - Credit: Archant

Police say Norwich's Prince of Wales Road area is now 'saturated' with bars and clubs and have called on the city council to take action to prevent new venues from opening.

Map showing licenced premises, takeaways and the night time economy zone.

Map showing licenced premises, takeaways and the night time economy zone. - Credit: Submitted

Officers have spent months pulling together evidence of the problems of violence and anti-social behaviour they face when policing the city's clubbing district.

They say the opening of new bars last year led to increasing levels of violence, with an extra six officers drafted in to police the city's clubland on Saturday nights.

They have presented that evidence to Norwich City Council and have called for City Hall to bring in tighter controls on when, and where, clubs, pubs and bars can open.

They want the council to introduce a cumulative impact policy, which will make it much harder for new premises to get licenses within a defined area.

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The area covered would almost certainly focus on Prince of Wales Road – the heart of Norwich's late-night drinking zone and, according to police statistics, a hotspot for violent crime and public order offences.

If the policy, which will go out for consultation this month, is brought in, anyone seeking a licence to sell alcohol would have to prove that the granting of a licence would not add to problems.

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The police report states: 'This would prevent any further licensed premises of a similar nature from opening in an area already saturated with pubs, clubs and late night refreshment premises, unless they can demonstrate they would not contribute to the issues and problems.

'The aim of the cumulative impact policy would be to reduce the risk of the potential increase in the number of violent alcohol related offences.

'It is understood that, while the night time economy in those areas cannot be forcibly reduced, it can be more effectively contained and further growth more robustly scrutinised.'

Police say such a move would increased goodwill and foster improved relationships with existing traders. The police report states: 'Anecdotally, some licensees have claimed that a saturated market has led to cost-cutting, aggressive drinks pricing and a lowering of standards around admission policy.

'The most recent statistics suggest a trend of increasing levels of violence. This has coincided with the opening of new licensed premises.

'It is not specifically the management of these premises which has led to increased crime levels, but rather the cumulative impact of more and more premises operating between 1am and 4am.'

Norwich City Council licensing committee last month agreed to consult over introducing the policy.

Gail Harris, the council's cabinet member for environment, development and transport, said: 'We are going out for consultation in January. It will come back to us in March and then, depending on what the consultation comes back with, is likely to go to full council in June.

'I think it would be good news. The onus would be on the people applying for licences to prove it would not make matters worse.'

The council last year approved a 12-point action plan to tackle problems with the night time economy in the city centre, which included banning cars from going down some of the roads along Prince of Wales Road.

What do you think? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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