Call for drink licence curb

Carol Woolley (right) chairman of Poulton in Bloom and committee member Jean Gregson by the sign which was vandalised in Queen's Square, Poulton le Fylde.
Carol Woolley (right) chairman of Poulton in Bloom and committee member Jean Gregson by the sign which was vandalised in Queen's Square, Poulton le Fylde.
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ANGRY residents are calling for new rules to restrict the number of pubs and clubs in a market town after the latest bout of booze-fuelled vandalism.

Locals in Poulton have held talks with police about introducing a new saturation policy at the busy nightspot.

Drinkers outside a town centre pub

Drinkers outside a town centre pub

It comes after reports of increased crime in the area, such as vandalism to road signs, smashed windows, noise pollution and anti social behaviour.

But police say crime overall is down in the Wyre town and a saturation policy – which makes it harder for new and existing businesses to get alcohol licenses – is not necessary.

However, Carol Woolley, of the Poulton Market Town Initiative, said a restriction on drinking licences is the only way forward.

She added: “I’m involved in Poulton in Bloom and we are getting tired of the damage seen in Poulton.

“Although it is mainly low level crime it has got to be looked at because we feel it is affecting the people in the town.

“These clubs and late night drinking licences are spoiling the area for the rest of the people who live here.

“Every Sunday morning I go to Poulton to replace flowers which have been pulled out or squashed and have to remove bottles which have been thrown in the displays.

“We raised £450 to put an RHS ‘Poulton in Bloom’ sign up in Queen’s Square but someone has taken a flying kick at it so now it is damaged.

“It is upsetting and demoralising when we have spent so much time making the place look nice with troughs and hanging baskets.”

Backing calls to introduce a saturation zone, Breck ward councillor David Henderson told The Gazette the problems have been visible for years.

He said: “Myself and residents have fought this for a long time and have put our ideas to the licensing committee and to the police on previous occasions.

“But with the proposals to close Poulton Police Station, the council set up a discussion group and I asked officers why we cannot have a saturation policy in Poulton.

“I was told they could not support it because crime is down, but we don’t need any more licensed premises in town, We don’t need any pubs open after midnight.

“A saturation policy would be advisable, especially if the police station does close.

“Late night drinking does effect the day time economy because business owners are having to clear their shop fronts of rubbish and bottles before they can open up.”

Earlier this year licensing bosses called for an investigation into alcohol-related disorder in Poulton town centre.

A report, published by Wyre Council’s licensing manager, revealed there were 64 premises in the town holding licenses – including 12 licensed for ‘off sales only’.

The report suggested the council consider a ‘cumulative impact policy’ if they felt the town was saturated with pubs and clubs, where new licenses would be refused unless the applicants could prove their activities would not add to public disorder.

Again police said they would not support that approach.

Paul Mellor, chairman of the Poulton licensing association, said the town was not at saturation point but he would like to see less restaurants turned into bars.

He also said supermarkets selling cheap alcohol is encouraging people to drink before even reaching the pub.

He added: “Not every pub in Poulton is full and not every pub is making money so I wouldn’t have concerns anyone will try and open a new pub or club in such an unprofitable period.

“Saturation will come when pubs go bust, we have had two pubs close in the last few years, The Queens and The Royal Oak, I can’t argue that the saturation point has been reached.

“Poulton has an abundance of restaurants and a lot are converting to bars with a later licence to sell alcohol. And because supermarkets are able to sell alcohol below cost people are drinking a bottle or tow bottles of wine before even going out.”