Council plans to limit the growth of licensed premises in two areas of Bury St Edmunds have received mixed responses.
On Tuesday, St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s licensing and regulatory committee will be asked to support the reinstatement of a ‘cumulative impact policy’ (CIP) for the town centre Abbeygate ward, while also introducing it for the first time in part of Risbygate ward.
The policy means anyone wanting to extend the hours of an existing licensed premises or apply to open a new one - be it pub, club, bar, restaurant, entertainment venue, off-licence or late night refreshment - will be refused or made subject to restrictions, unless they can demonstrate their business is unlikely to add to problems of antisocial behaviour and crime.
The council says the policy - which would affect 64 businesses - will offer residents ‘greater protection against drunken loutish behaviour,’ but some have criticised the scheme as ‘unnecessary,’ ‘disproportionate’ and ‘costly’.
Cllr David Nettleton, who represents the Risbygate ward, said CIPs do not work, with ‘most of the trouble you get in the town’ occurring in the areas that were subject to a CIP from April 2011 to January this year.
Furthermore, he said there was not enough evidence to support the introduction of a CIP in the proposed Risbygate ward areas, namely Station Hill, Tayfen Road and Fornham Road.
He said: “It’s been shown to not work in the medieval grid where it applied, so what’s the point of extending it? There is not the local support for it and local councillors are opposed to it.”
He has branded the policy ‘a complete waste of time’ and says it is ‘stifling’ to new businesses.
The council says it consulted with the police, fire service, health officials, licence holders, businesses and residents as part of its CIP review.
In a formal objection, Mark Cordell, chief executive of business improvement district, Ourburystedmunds, said: “A general ‘blanket’ decision about preventing any additional licensed premises from trading in the relevant area is disproportionate and undemocratic. Each case should be deal with on its own merit.”
Cllr Paul Farmer, who represents the Abbeygate ward, is in favour of the CIP, saying in the 11 years he has represented the area there have been ‘numerous problems and much anecdotal evidence’ to support its reinstatement.
A Merchants Place resident, who believes people should be encouraged ‘to live alongside a thriving evening leisure economy’, said CIP would help achieve ‘harmony’ between businesses, residents and visitors ‘to the benefit of all’.