Hartlepool council to consider first UK 'booze ban'

Possible restrictions on the sale of alcohol in Hartlepool will be debated by licensing chiefs
Possible restrictions on the sale of alcohol in Hartlepool will be debated by licensing chiefs

Councillors will consider introducing a possible booze ban for Hartlepool town centre at a meeting this week.

Hartlepool Borough Council's Licensing Committee is being asked to look at bringing in an Early Morning Restriction Order (EMRO) on the sale of alcohol to help tackle alcohol-fuelled crime and disorder.

If such an order was introduced, Hartlepool would be the first place in the country to do so.

In May 2013 Hartlepool became the first licensing authority in the country to formally consider the adoption of an EMRO which requires all licensed premises within a designated area to stop selling alcohol at a set time.

But after a large number of objections from local licensees and other interested parties from around the country the committee decided while it may have a positive impact on the prevention of crime and disorder it would also harm the viability of local businesses.

But last month the Safer Hartlepool Partnership requested the licensing committee to look at EMRO’s again to help tackle crime and demands on police linked to large numbers of revellers being on the streets at around 4am all trying to get taxis and buy takeaways.

A report by Louise Wallace, Hartlepool's director of public health, said: "No other licensing authority in the country has adopted an EMRO and, at the time of writing this report, it is believed that there are no EMRO’s being actively considered anywhere in the country.

"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’.

"If Committee was minded to re-consider the introduction of an EMRO it would be necessary to demonstrate that it was appropriate to do so taking into account the trends in crime and disorder, the evidenced benefit that an EMRO would produce and the potential negative impact on the local economy, as previously stated by the licensed trade."

There are currently 14 premises in the town centre area licensed to sell alcohol later than 2am but the council says not everyone makes full use of their permitted hours.

The licensing committee meets at 2pm on Wednesday at Hartlepool Civic Centre.