New off-licences could be banned to cut street drinking in Norfolk town
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A ban on opening any more off-licences is being considered in a Norfolk town after reports that street drinking is on the rise.
With already 98 licensed premises in Thetford, the town council heard calls for measures to curb the anti-social behaviour associated with street drinking at a meeting on Monday April 29.
The debate came as Safer Thetford Action Group (STAG) published its most recent report, which described the town as a “relatively deprived area of Breckland” which has problems with street drinking and antisocial behaviour.
According to the report there has been an increase in irresponsible selling to “highly intoxicated” people and the level of street drinking and substance misuse has risen.
Action has already been taken in the Breckland area with the introduction of CCTV in town centres, police officers given powers to confiscate alcohol from adults and children, and further powers to curb disorder with fixed penalty notices.
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Speaking at the meeting councillor Mike Brindle raised concerns that banning off-licenses might deter businesses from opening in the town but councillor Jenny Hollis assured Mr Brindle that it is an effort to stop off-licenses and stores selling alcohol will be assessed to see if it adds benefits to the town centre.
Councillor Terry Jermy said the issue was also enforcement and the council should not expect the policy to solve all anti-social issues.
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Despite the suggestion to implement a cumulative impact policy (CIP), which means that applications for new premise licences or variations would be refused, the licensing authority said it ”acknowledges that licensing is not the primary mechanism for control of nuisance and anti social behaviour”.
A large part of the town centre is subject to a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) which prohibits drinking alcohol in a public place, urinating and defecating in a public place and riding skateboards and bikes in an anti-social manner.
The report shows there has been 229 instances of anti-social behaviour in the town centre in a three-year period. There has been an increase of drug or substance misuse by 82pc, but drunkenness is down by 28pc over the same period.
Thetford Council unanimously supported the policy and will take it to Breckland District Council.