BLACKPOOL’S most violent street has been revealed on the Government’s new crime website.
Market Street in the town centre has been dubbed “a battle ground” after 16 violent crimes and 24 incidents of anti-social behaviour were reported in just one month.
Licensing chiefs blame boozed-up revellers for the high number of violent assaults.
And pub bosses claim supermarkets selling cheap alcohol lead to people binge drinking before they go out to hit the bars and clubs in the town centre.
Market Street was revealed as being the worst in Blackpool for violent crime after street-by-street figures were published yesterday on interactive crime maps by the Home Office.
Coun Henry Mitchell, chairman of Blackpool Council Licensing Committee, said he was concerned by the figures.
He added: “We’re one of the worst in the North West, I’m very concerned. It’s a dreadful situation, it’s not good for the town.
“I’m not blaming the pubs, they have got their work cut out. The Government needs to clamp down on the supermarkets and cheap booze.
“People get cheap booze, get tanked up and then go out in town. They’re beyond reason.”
Che Bar and Coco Club on Market Street was stripped of its licence for two weeks last month following a string of vicious attacks. The incidents included a 21-year-old woman being glassed in the face by a 17-year-old girl, an 18-year-old man hit over the head with a glass bottle and a 20-year old who had a beer glass smashed over his head.
Bosses at Brook Leisure have since agreed to replace all glasses with plastic and introduce ID scanning equipment to ensure under-age revellers are kept out.
Phil Hough, franchisee of Subway on Market Street, said he was worried about the safety of his staff because of the trouble on Market Street.
He said: “I’ve been there a year and I’ve had my windows smashed twice at £1,000 a pop. My insurance are threatening not to cover me. They say twice in a year is ridiculous.
“We wanted to trade at night but I don’t know if my staff would be safe.
“We close at 11pm and the staff get hassled with drunks.
“I’ve got CCTV, I’ve seen a few fights and had to split them up. It can be a bit of a battle ground. It’s because of the binge drinking.”
The new Home Office website – www.police.uk – allows residents to type in their postcode to see the full extent of crime on their street. It shows total crime and a breakdown of violent attacks, burglary, robbery, car crime and anti-social behaviour ‘on or near’ individual streets in December 2010 and will be updated monthly. Yesterday it crashed under the weight of viewers.
Talbot Road had 14 reports of violent crime, 31 of anti-social behaviour, one burglary, one robbery and nine incidents of ‘other crime’ in December. The worst street for anti-social behaviour was Queen Street with 35 incidents in the same month. There were eight violent crimes, 13 ‘other’ crimes and one auto crime.
Supt Bill McMahon, operations manager for Blackpool Police, told The Gazette: “Obviously Market Street will show up as an area of high crime as it’s a busy street in the heart of Blackpool with a large number of bars and clubs and a busy night time economy, especially in the run up to Christmas.
“We run specific policing operations to prevent offences, particularly during busy weekends. We also work very closely with the licensed trade in the town to try and reduce incidents of violence and anti-social behaviour. This area has its own dedicated policing team and there were extra patrols working in the town centre in the lead up to and over the festive period, including officers from our mounted branch to reassure people who were out and about.”
But Craig Southall, manager of Yates’s on Market Street and newly-appointed chairman of Blackpool PubWatch, said they have measures in place to reduce violence.
He said: “It’s a surprise to me. I can’t think of any violent incidents in December. At Yates’s we are selective on the door, it’s an older clientele. We also train and educate staff to know how to spot signs of drunkenness and turn people away.”
And Dave Daly, licensee of The Castle on Central Drive, and chairman of the landlords’ group Licensees Unite, said people should not be frightened by the figures.
He said: “There is an array of venues down there – you can have between 6,000 and 10,000 people in that one area. People should not be frightened by the statistics.”