New pubs and bars must close early in night crack­down

11.30pm cur­few to tackle late-night noise And drunken yobs

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Letters And Opinion - By Gerry War­ren gwar­ren@thek­m­ @Ger­ry_war­ren

At­tempts to stop drunken city cen­tre rev­ellers caus­ing a latenight nui­sance in Can­ter­bury are set to be strength­ened next month.

A re­vised li­cens­ing pol­icy mak­ing it harder for bar own­ers to get later open­ing hours is ex­pected to be rub­ber-stamped by the city coun­cil.

Greater weight will also be placed on the ef­fect of new premises on neigh­bours.

If the pol­icy is ap­proved on April 20, new ‘core hours’ li­cences will only be granted un­til 11.30pm on Mon­day to Thurs­day and on Sun­days, and un­til mid­night on Fri­days and Satur­days.

Any premises want­ing later hours will have to make a con­vinc­ing case for “ex­cep­tional” cir­cum­stances.

But, cru­cially, the re­vised reg­u­la­tions will not be ret­ro­spec­tive, al­low­ing ex­ist­ing late-night venues to con­tinue with their cur­rent hours.

City coun­cil­lor Nick EdenGreen said the “genie was let out of the jar” when the Li­cens­ing Act was first in­tro­duced in 2003, and it could not be put back.

The act – which re­laxed open­ing hours – re­sulted in dozens of bars be­ing granted later li­cences, and sparked com­plaints of latenight anti-so­cial be­hav­iour in the city cen­tre.

Cllr Eden-green said: “I wel­come the of­fi­cers’ and mem­bers’ ef­forts to re­bal­ance the pol­icy be­cause the act opened the flood­gates to longer hours, which has cer­tainly not pro­duced the cafe cul­ture we were sold.

“Re­ally, the genie was let out of the jar back then and can­not be put back, and per­haps the coun­cil could have taken a more strin­gent view from the out­set.

“This is re­ally dam­age lim­i­ta­tion but a move in the right di­rec­tion.”

The coun­cil’s head of safer neigh­bour­hoods, Doug Rat­tray, has pre­vi­ously ad­mit­ted there has been a “con­tin­ual creep­ing” of li­cens­ing ex­ten­sions which has af­fected res­i­dents’ “fun­da­men­tal hu­man right” to an undis­turbed night’s sleep.

Chair­man of the St Mil­dred’s Area Community So­ci­ety, Reg Race, ap­proves of the tougher rules.

He said: “City cen­tre res­i­dents are fed up with the drunken shout­ing and hol­ler­ing and the ridicu­lous strain on the emer­gency ser­vices.

“We don’t want to stop peo­ple en­joy­ing them­selves but not at the ex­pense of oth­ers.

“We sup­ported the idea of core hours, which should make a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment to peo­ple’s lives. But what needs to hap­pens most is the re-draft­ing of the li­cens­ing act.”

What do you think? Email ken­tishgazette@thek­m­group. or write to Gazette House, 5-8 Boor­man Way, Wraik Hill, Whit­stable, CT5 3SE

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