Massive shake-up proposed for late night drinking in Northampton

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Talks will be held next week to decide whether to bring in a massive shake-up of licensing restrictions in areas of Northampton where there have been problems with late night drinking.

As part of the Government’s national review of licensing, Northampton Borough Council will decide whether to introduce so-called Early Morning Alcohol Restriction Orders (EMROs) for licensed premises where there have been issues.

EMROs would enable them to restrict the sale of alcohol between midnight and 6am, althought it would not be a blanket six-hour ban. The Guildhall would instead have powers to introduce a ban within those hours, most likely between 3am and 6am.

The only premises exempt from EMROs will be hotels that provide alcohol to customers through minibars and room service, but even hotels that serve alcohol in a bar, lounge or lobby would be affected by the new orders.

EMROs will not apply to any premises on New Year’s Eve.

The licensing committee meeting on February 11 is expected to rule out introducing a late night levy on premises selling alcohol after midnight at this time. The levy is a measure proposed by the Government allowing councils to charge businesses for the extra policing and clean-up costs that the night time economy generates.

Early discussions the Guildhall has had with Northamptonshire Police indicate introducing EMROs could be a good idea for the town but that it is too early to say whether a late night levy is called for.

If after considering the two proposals the committee feels that policy changes would help tackle incidents and crimes linked to drinking, further consultation would be needed with all interested parties. A more in-depth assessment of evidence would also need to be undertaken before any final decisions can be made by the licensing committee.

Councillor David Mackintosh, leader of Northampton Borough Council, said: “There has been much discussion in Northampton since the Government announced these new powers and the licensing committee has already discussed the change in legislation. The report proposes a recommendation to rule out a late night levy at this stage but I am interested in working with the police and licensed premises to look at whether an EMRO could work for Northampton.”

Councillor Christopher Malpas, chairman of Northampton Borough Council’s licensing committee, said: “We will be making a decision based on the evidence placed in front of us. The council already works with the police and businesses to promote public safety and reduce alcohol related incidents, but we have a duty to consider whether any new proposals can help us do this better.”

Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Adam Simmonds, said: “I am very keen to work with partners on making the night time economies safer and any powers or policy which enables that to happen is a good thing.”