Licensing panel urged not to stop 4am drinking in Hartlepool because hours mean ‘crime and disorder rates are lower’

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Licensing chiefs are being urged not to support calls to introduce legislation limiting late night drinking in Hartlepool.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s Licensing Committee will consider the issue of an Early Morning Restriction Order for the town’s night trade at a meeting on Wednesday, July 26.

It follows an investigation into the feasibility of such an order which would prevent the sale of alcohol between midnight and 6am.

But a report of Hartlepool’s interim director of public health, Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, says it would be difficult to defend as booze-related crime and disorder has fallen in recent years.

A report to the licensing committee states: “Crime, anti-social behaviour and violence against the person are all at lower levels than those when the Licensing Act was first introduced in 2005.

“It would be difficult for the council to defend a decision to introduce an EMRO when crime and disorder has improved since the Licensing Act, and its associated longer licensed hours, were introduced in 2005.”

A number or bars in the town centre can serve alcohol up to 4am.

The late hours have been blamed by some for the town centre being quieter until much later as revellers drink at home before heading out.

But in March, a House of Lords report was critical of EMROs saying no one they spoke to believed they were implementable in their current form.

And Dr Edmondson-Jones’s report says if that was cut back to 2am, it would result in everyone spilling out onto the streets for taxis and takeaway food at the same time – something the scrapping of traditional hours aimed to prevent.

It adds other actions are available to tackle drink-related issues such as reviews of problem places’ licences, stepping up CCTV monitoring, and greater police patrols.

And the council’s current Licensing Policy states that no new alcohol licences will be granted for after 2am.

The Licensing Committee meeting starts at 10am in the civic centre.