Westminster sticks to core hours policy

By John Harrington john.harrington@william-reed.co.u

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Westminster city council, West end of london, City of westminster

Westminster City Council is sticking by its controversial policy of restricting opening hours at pubs and clubs while making it easier for...

Westminster City Council is sticking by its controversial policy of restricting opening hours at pubs and clubs while making it easier for restaurants to open later.

The council has chosen not to abandon its core-hours policy despite it being overturned on appeal at magistrates on two occasions. It also plans restrictions on off-licences, including bans on selling high-strength alcohol.

The plans are included in Westminster's updated licensing policy, which has been put out to consultation until 21 September.

It recommends maintaining the core-hours policy, which sees a limit of midnight opening at pubs and clubs on Fridays and Saturdays, and 11.30pm during the week, in designated "stress zones".

But the consultation recommends that core hours for restaurants should be 1am. Westminster said pubs are twice as likely to experience violent incidents, compared to restaurants, and nightclubs are 14 times as likely.

Cllr Audrey Lewis said: "What we are seeking to do is tweak the present guidelines in favour of restaurants.

"This is supported by strong evidence to support what we had always suspected - that restaurants providing table service have a much lower association with crime and disorder than drink-led premises."

Morning Advertiser legal editor Peter Coulson said: "Obviously they are not going to turn back on a key policy platform, which is core hours.

"It's wrong in terms of the Licensing Act and the guidance, but nobody seems to be prepared to take them to task for it."

The consultation says that, when asked by police, off-trade premises will have conditions banning the sale of super-strength beers and ciders, and only sell full-size bottles of spirits.

Late-Night violence

Late-night violence in the London nightspots of the West End and Soho has fallen 11% since the new Licensing Act was introduced.

That is according to figures from Westminster, which were revealed at the launch of its licensing policy consultation.

Cllr Audrey Lewis said: "We believe our present policies for pubs and clubs are working successfully and have proven to be a robust tool for the consideration and determination of licences. This has been demonstrated by the reduction in late-night violence by 11%."

Related topics: Legislation

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