Pubs crackdown in historic town could be lifted
CONTROVERSIAL pub rules which business leaders claim have stifled the night-time economy in one of Suffolk’s best-loved towns should be scrapped, it was claimed last night.
It is nearly two years since St Edmundsbury Borough Council brought in its “special area licensing policy.”
The new rules forced licensees wanting to extend their hours or open a new venue in the historic core of Bury St Edmunds to demonstrate their proposals would not increase noise and disturbance in the surrounding area. The idea behind the new rules was to protect residents but critics claim the move has stifled the town’s evening economy.
It has now emerged the council is carrying out a review of its licensing policy – including questioning whether there is “sufficient evidence to support” the controversial special area policy.
The new policy was initially called for by the town’s Abbeygate ward councillors Paul Farmer and Richard Rout.
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Mr Farmer said: “Richard Rout and I championed this policy to protect residents from the cumulative impact of licences in the area. Despite licensees’ fears, none has been put out of business – but any new applications do have to show how they would not further impact on the area. We believe this policy is as important now as ever, and very much hope it will be renewed.”
But businessman Andrew Hunter, whose ultimately successful application for the Hunter Club was the first to be tested against the special area policy, yesterday called for the policy to be scrapped.
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He described the policy as an extra layer of regulation which did not benefit residents and risked stifling the evening economy.
“I don’t think it has contributed to the town and it causes quite a lot of extra kerfuffle in the licensing process,” he said.
“I’m not terribly keen on extra laws and regulation which don’t actually benefit people.”
A spokeswoman for the town’s chamber of trade said: “We have written to the council to tell them we don’t believe the policy should be continued with.”
If the council decides to change the policy there will be a period of public consultation and any changes will not come into force before January next year.