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Bury St Edmunds town centre pubs face tougher licensing laws

Enjoy alcohol responsibly this Christmas.
Enjoy alcohol responsibly this Christmas.

Pubs, clubs and bars in Bury St Edmunds face tougher licensing laws after it was decided to revise the town’s Cumulative Impact Area.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council approved the plans, with 27 votes for and nine against with three abstentions, to extend the area to cover Risbygate Street, St Andrews Street North and South, Buttermarket and Cornhill at a full council meeting on Tuesday, December 19.

Businesses in the area applying for an alcohol licence, or to extend hours, must now show the measures they plan to put in place to prevent increases in disturbance, anti-social behaviour and crime.

Cllr Joanna Rayner, who supported the extension, said: “The residents I work with are very active and they don’t want everything shut down in the town. We need to protect the town and its businesses. That’s what this is all about.

“They have asked for this and I think we have a duty to protect our town and respect our residents.”

Cllr Sarah Mildmay-White, who also supported the decision, said: “We won’t get things like anti-social behaviour and noisy clubs. That’s important for doing business here and that says it all for me.”

But the proposals were heavily criticised by other councillors, who said they feared the move would kill the town’s night time economy.

Cllr Paul Hopfensperger said: “I used to get annoyed living near a pub but I chose to live there. People have a choice in where they live.”

Councillor David Nettleton also voted against the plan, later saying that it picks on one pub.

“Despite protestations to the contrary, the borough council has clearly got its sights fixed on The Grapes pub in Brentgovel Street,” he said.

“In 14 years representing the Risbygate Ward, I have not been aware of any problems with The Grapes or received any complaints from electors in the immediate area. For the past 25 years I have lived less than 400 metres away from The Grapes and four other pubs in the Risbygate Ward – The Cannon Brewery, The Bushel, The Station and the Beerhouse. All five pubs operate successfully within the existing licencing laws. There was no good reason for the Cabinet to redraw the line to zigzag it into St Andrews Street North to include The Grapes.

“I don’t know what the borough wants to do next but if the licensing section or police think that The Grapes is contravening any of the regulations they should institute a review and submit their evidence. Innocent until proved guilty. Now, it’s the other way round.”

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