Fears as ban on new pubs faces axe

August 01 2021

TOUGH restrictions on new pubs, clubs and bars opening in Kingswood are set to be dropped because there has been no drunken disorder in the area.

Council officers say they cannot justify continuing a five-year policy agreed last year, which said there should be a presumption against granting any applications for licensed premises and alcohol sales in the town centre.

They say there is no evidence of disturbances since the first lockdown in 2020. 

But councillors are worried about any change just at the time when the night-time economy is reopening.

New Cheltenham ward councillor Kim Scudamore told South Gloucestershire Council’s regulatory committee on July 15 that there was concern over proposals to remove the restriction, known as a community impact area (CIA).

He said police had said in  November that the restriction would be useful and effective,.

“The policy only came into effect in January and actually doesn’t need to be reviewed for five years. I don’t understand why now we think it’s a good idea to remove it. Are we now saying that because of a lack of evidence because of Covid that we cannot defend that any longer? Any support that local councillors can have in exercising some control over the growth of licensed premises in the Kingswood area would be appreciated.”

South Gloucestershire Council licensing team leader Kevin Barley replied at the meeting at Kingswood civic centre: “It’s a fair point. There is a statutory footing for CIAs in terms of evidential requirements.

“Now we’ve had another year, with the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, to review that with our colleagues in the police force, there is no evidence to suggest there are any issues of crime and disorder at licensed premises in the Kingswood CIA.

“We will consider any future data and evidence to bring a further report to this committee if it is felt the CIA should be reinstated.”

Mr Barley said “Kingswood CIA was based on evidence before the pandemic commenced. Officers of the licensing service have discussed this regularly with the South Gloucestershire police licensing officer and there is agreement the evidential requirement cannot be met. This follows the same pattern we have seen over the past few months where other authorities have removed CIAs from their licensing policies.”

The committee agreed to send the proposed changes to the licensing policy out to 12 weeks’ public consultation, although four members abstained. A final decision can be made only by full council. 

By Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporter