Have a say on drinks hours

PEOPLE are being urged to have their say on plans to restrict the hours that alcohol can be sold in pubs and clubs in the town centre of Hartlepool.

Proposals for an Early Morning Alcohol Restriction Order (EMRO) that would prohibit the sale of alcohol from 2am-6am will be discussed at the council’s south and central and north and coastal neighbourhood forums next week.

Both meetings will take place in Committee Room B at the Civic Centre on Wednesday, January 23.

The North and Coastal Neighbourhood Forum meeting begins at 10am and this will be followed by the South and Central Neighbourhood Forum meeting at 2pm.

Ian Harrison, the council’s principal trading standards and licensing officer, will make a presentation on the proposed town centre EMRO as part of a consultation process that must be carried out before such a measure can be introduced.

This follows the recent decision of the council’s licensing committee to propose the order following representations from Cleveland Police and the town’s director of public health.

Mr Harrison said: “Hartlepool currently has 13 premises that are licensed to serve alcohol beyond 2am and unless there are specific problems associated with particular premises the council as the licensing authority has no power to reduce their operating hours.

“Once adopted, an EMRO would allow us to prohibit the sale of alcohol from all premises in a defined area within any times between midnight and 6am.

“Crime and disorder continues to be a significant issue, with an average of approximately 20 violent incidents in the town centre area each month. Cleveland Police say that current policing methods required to effectively manage the town’s night time economy are unsustainable.”

Following the end of the consultation period, a further meeting of the licensing committee will be held to consider responses and a report will then be submitted to a meeting of the full council.

It is anticipated that an EMRO would take effect from August.