Trade outcry as Crime Bill opens door to ADZs

Related tags Alcohol disorder zones Crime

by Ewan Turney Trade leaders have accused the Government of "sheer arrogance" and declared they are "bitterly disappointed" with its decision to...

by Ewan Turney

Trade leaders have accused the Government of "sheer arrogance" and declared they are "bitterly disappointed" with its decision to include legislation on alcohol disorder zones in yesterday's Violent Crime Reduc-tion Bill.

The move for legislation comes within a month of the Queen's speech. At the time of going to press, the exact details had yet to be released by the Home Office, but it is believed that disorder zones will include every pub, restaurant and off-licence in areas considered to have a problem with drink-fuelled disorder. The average payment for those in the zones is expected to be around £100 a week, although it will be based on rateable value.

It is believed pubs will have eight weeks to get their house in order or face being dumped in a zone and having to pay for police as well as street-cleaning costs and accident and emergency services.

The move has prompted outrage from trade leaders who, along with the Local Govern-ment Association and Associa-tion of Chief Police Officers, voiced serious concerns during the consultation period.

"I am bitterly disappointed the Government has not listened to us," said Bar Entertainment & Dance Association chief executive Jon Collins.

"It is ridiculous, we couldn't have been more clear in our opposition. It is far too complicated and I have massive doubts whether this will ever see the light of day. It is a massive mistake for the Government to devote so much time and energy to this."

There remains a deep-rooted fear that the zones will actually have the opposite effect to the desired one. "If you declare an ADZ it will drive away those you want to attract, like families, and the zone may well become a tourist attraction for troublemakers," said BII chief executive John McNamara.

Speculation is rife that around 30 councils are ready to declare ADZs ­ apparently against all logic. "It would have a negative impact on private and commercial property prices and would be a disincentive for businesses to invest in the area and create jobs and investment in facilities," said British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) director of communications Mark Hastings.

The BBPA also believes that the system is a "long way from natural justice" and is concerned that those who will profit from ADZs ­ police and local authorities ­ are the ones who decide whether to declare a zone. "Rather than clean up and crackdown on those pubs causing trouble, they are saying stay open, stay drunk and stay disorderly as long as you pay."

The legislation will now be debated in Parliament.

How Alcohol Disorder Zones work:

An alcohol disorder zone (ADZ) can be declared after a warning about alcohol-related problems has been issued and premises have failed to act, despite being given plenty of time to tackle problems. The warning period would be for a minimum of eight weeks. Premises within an ADZ would be charged for additional costs associated with crime and disorder, including contributions for policing, street-cleaning operations and accident and emergency services. Licensees would be required to agree and carry out an action plan with the local Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership and agree long-term arrangements.

BIDs ­ the alternative

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) have gained huge support from the trade. There are 22 pilot BIDs in operation at the moment and three live schemes. The first one, in Richmond-on-Thames, has raised around £3.5m for investment in the area over four years. BIDs include every retail outlet in the area, not just licensed premises, and all have a vote on issues. They can set the amount of money to pay themselves and an elected board can spend that money on improving facilities, CCTV, street cleaning or whatever it requires. John McNamara said: "It is a street-corner strategy and is far more positive and effective."

Related topics Licensing law

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