Watford to ban new off-licences

By James Wilmore

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: City of london, London, West end of london

More evidence of councils planning to ban new off-licences opening has emerged, in the wake of radical plans by Westminster. Watford Borough Council...

More evidence of councils planning to ban new off-licences opening has emerged, in the wake of radical plans by Westminster.

Watford Borough Council is set to join Westminster in placing a ban on new off-licences in a hot-spot in the town - in recognition of the problems caused by cheap off-trade booze.

Last week The Publican ​revealed Westminster City Council is planning to put a freeze on new off-licences and curb the sale of small bottles of spirits in its West End "stress area", as part of its new licensing policy.

All councils across England and Wales are currently reviewing their licensing policies, as part of an enforced three-year update.

Jeffrey Leib, licensing manager at Watford Council, said: "We're proposing in our new licensing policy to make a cumulative impact area, to the extent we would not grant a new off-licence except to replace an existing one."

The council's move follows a case locally in which an off-licence was stripped of its licence for selling after-hours, to under-18s and to street drinkers.

The Whippendell Road area, where the new policy is proposed, is also close to a substance misuse clinic and a homeless hostel - and has the second highest number of alcohol-related incidents in the borough.

Watford's licensing policy proposal states: "We wish to discourage more off-licences in a small, discreet part of the borough, where approximately 20 per cent of the commercial premises are licensed to sell alcohol." Six out of 30 shops in the area are off-licences.

The council said it would also consider extending the saturation area to St Albans Road too.

Nicky Smith, licensee at the Horns, in Watford, said the proposed ban was a "very good idea".

"There are so many off-licences," she said. "Then it's the same old scenario, where they are drunk before they come to the town centre, then pubs get the backlash."

Meanwhile, Blackpool Council is considering introducing more off-trade saturation policies if "appropriate evidence can be made available".

The council currently operates a policy, which means any new application for an off-licence is automatically refused, in the Bloomfield, Claremont, Talbot and Victoria wards of the city.

Related topics: Licensing law

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