Licensing officials will discuss calls to curb Hartlepool’s late night booze laws this week.
Hartlepool Borough Council’s Licensing Committee will consider the feasibility of Introducing an Early Morning Restriction Order (EMRO) when it meets on Wednesday morning.
It follows a motion from the Full Council meeting on February 23.
A report of Hartlepool’s Interim Director of Public Health, Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, says an EMRO could be used to prevent town centre premises from selling alcohol between 2am and 6am.
It states: “Members will be aware that the current late night culture appears to be one of ‘pre-loading’ whereby people drink cheap alcohol at home and then travel into the town centre sometime after 11 pm – often after midnight.
“Anecdotal feedback from the licensed trade and taxi drivers is that business is considerably worse than it was several years ago and that only Saturday night could be classed as a ‘busy night’.
“No authority in the country has introduced an EMRO and at the time of writing this report there are no EMRO’s pending anywhere in the UK.”
The council has considered introducing such an order three times since 2013.
The first time, the Licensing Committee decided not to go ahead with it because while it could have helped reduce crime and disorder it would have a negative impact on the local economy.
The committee looked again at EMROs in 2014 and again last year after a request from the Safer Hartlepool Partnership.
In the latest report, Dr Edmondson-Jones says the council would need to show that there are recurring alcohol-related problems in a specific area between midnight and 6am.
Guidance under the Licensing Act also says other measures should be considered first including working in partnership with licensed premises on a voluntary basis, encouraging best practice schemes led by businesses, and reviewing licences of problem premises.
The report says as it has not been possible to address all of the issues yet and it is proposed the licensing committee looks at the issue again in the summer.
Since 2005 about 40% of Hartlepool’s town centre late night pubs and bars are reported to have closed, and violent crime has fallen significantly.
There are 14 premises in the town centre that licensed to sell alcohol after 2am.