Controversial pub rules voted through

NEW rules which some fear could jeopardise the evening economy in a Suffolk town have been voted through.

Laurence Cawley

NEW rules which some fear could jeopardise the evening economy in a Suffolk town have been voted through.

From now on, licensees wanting to open new establishments in the historic core areas of Abbeygate Street, Crown Street, Westgate Street and Guildhall Street in Bury St Edmunds will have to prove their schemes will not add to noise and nuisance in the area.The idea was put forward by Abbeygate ward councillors Paul Farmer and Richard Rout and were backed by the Churchgate Area Association.

But licensees, traders and some residents in the town opposed the move, claiming it could damage Bury's evening economy.

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After St Edmundsbury Borough Council voted through the policy last night, Mr Rout said: “This is fantastic news for residents in our historic town centre.

“It is our opinion that the special area policy strikes the correct balance between sensible growth in licensed premises and helping to ensure that Bury St Edmunds remains a pleasant place to live, work and visit.

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Mr Farmer said: “I am delighted that our efforts for all who live and work in this area have been recognised by the council, and I'd like to thank residents for their support throughout our long campaign. This measure will maintain existing licensing hours, whilst ensuring that any further growth will not add to the local cumulative effect. It is a win-win situation for both residents and businesses alike.”

Chrissy Harrod, chairman of the Bury Town Centre Management Group and former president of the town's chamber of commerce, said: “We've already got a licensing policy in place - why do we need this new policy? It just worries me.

“Licensees can't possibly prove that people visiting their establishment are not going to misbehave.”

Prior to the council meeting, Mike Garling, who runs the Hide Bar in Hatter Street, warned the policy might stifle trade.

“You cannot stifle trade without severe economic consequences,” said Mr Garling. “A policy like this will devalue existing businesses and should only be used where there are significant problems.”

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