Pubs, bars and restaurants wanting to serve alcohol in residential areas could be made to close at 11.30pm under new rules to be discussed by Brighton and Hove City Council.
The full council will meet next Thursday to discuss a revised licensing policy, which includes the new stricter rules to reduce nuisance in the city’s neighbourhoods.
And the policy specifies that this will include St James’s Street and the North Laine – with East Street designated mixed use, with new licences being given a 2am limit.
Council leader Mary Mears said: “The revised policy reflects the close partnership approach we have adopted in the city to address the health and social issues of binge drinking and alcohol misuse.
“It also recognises the need to balance our economy with community protection. Good regulation at a local level promotes fair trading, supports local business and discourages irresponsible practices.”
The Green Party’s licensing spokesman Pete West said: “This will make a tremendous difference, and is the first step towards reclaiming quiet nights for people to be able sleep.”
Under the new policy, premises will also be required to draw up a smoking management plan to minimise disruption to neighbours, which could include taking away chairs, tables, lights and heaters after a certain time.
It says consideration will be given to venues providing table service, while so-called “vertical drinking” premises, in which customers are encouraged to stand and drink, may be required to provide a certain number of tables and chairs depending on their capacity.
The policy also encourages: “mixed use venues encouraging a wider age balance.” It adds: “Favourable consideration will be given to promoting the city’s cultural quarter, live entertainment in pubs, food led operations, developing LGBT and other communities of interest venues, particularly around St James’s Street, promoting a family leisure area on the sea front with a more adult leisure centre at night.”
However, not everyone will be pleased with the new policy. Hove MP Mike Weatherley told Parliament yesterday that longer licensing hours are good for the city.
He said: “Many councils and residents look with disdain at bars and clubs and their patrons, and a cultural shift is required to move on and recognise the economic benefits of that sector. Within Brighton and Hove, the night-time economy raises a figure in excess of £400 million a year.
“A thriving night-time economy is one of the strongest draws for visitors to the coast and, increasingly, for the “silver mature” market, which includes myself. The night-time economy should be embraced and helped, not legislated against.
“Extended licensing hours, for example, have generally benefited the city, rather than had a negative effect.”
The policy does talk of the importance of the tourism industry to the city’s economy. However, it adds: “Pubs and clubs play an important role in our city’s culture and economy but alcohol is a factor in at least 40% of violent crime.”
In 2009/10 there were 5,029 hospital inpatient admissions for alcohol-related harm of Brighton and Hove residents – a 3% fall from last year, but still more than double the rate in 2003/4.
However, Sussex Police said: “With regard to the Cumulative Impact Zone: the data support the assumption that, in spite of national trends, the city centre has not seen a significant increase in violence; and there is no evidence of displacement or emerging crime and disorder issues for the neighbouring wards.”
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