Camden Council in London has launched a consultation asking local residents and businesses for their views on late-night licensing.
The initiative, called Night in, Night out, was launched at a conference last month at which 24 licensees from the area's largest pubs and clubs were asked to debate the issues and problems associated with late-night opening.
The council now hopes to develop a strategy to deal with crime and disorder issues such as underage drinking and criminal damage and also solve the problems associated with late-night noise and disturbance.
The Camden initiative follows criticism from the trade of neighbouring Westminster City Council's efforts to restrict late-night licences in key areas because of concern from residents. Pub and bar operators, including Chorion, which runs Tiger Tiger in Piccadilly, have criticised the policy, which they claim unfairly limits trading.
But licensees in Camden have welcomed the consultation and a series of public forums being run to gauge opinion on the issue.
Miranda McUllen, manager of the Jazz Café, Camden Town, said: "It's excellent Camden Council is talking to us. This seminar shows Camden recognises that internationally-known venues such as the Jazz Café bring money into the area and should be consulted on policy that affects them. Until now this hasn't been recognised or appreciated."
Mark Ellicot, manager of the Forum, Kentish Town, said: "It's about time there was a strategy on these issues."
Police officers from Camden Borough and the Clubs and Vice Unit have also launched a joint initiative with Camden Council to stamp out violence and drugs in and around clubs. Called Project Glitterball, it includes practical advice for operators on search and drug policies and working with local police officers.
The Night In, Night Out consultation document outlines the concerns around licensing public music, dancing, plays, cinemas, night cafes, sex establishments and outside tables and chairs.
Trish O'Flynn, licensing & safety team manager at Camden Council, said: "Camden's licensing team want to establish a balance between the views of the community and local businesses. The best way forward is through thorough consultation."
Westminster Council hits back at licensing criticisms (03 September 2001)
Westminster licensees join forces to have say in local policy decisions (14 August 2001)