Call for more zones to control booze licences

Ashton town centre
Ashton town centre

Council bosses have not ruled out imposing a restrictive booze licence policy to other areas of the borough.

It comes after a campaigner called for the controversial regulations to be enforced in Ashton in addition to Wigan and Leigh town centres.

Should data reveal any part of the borough is experiencing high levels of alcohol related issues, then we would of course consider introducing further zones

Julie Middlehurst

Launched last year, the cumulative impact zone (CIZ) scheme means the council will adopt a default “no” stance on new bars, pubs and clubs unless applicants can prove they will not add to levels of booze related crime and disorder.

Resident Michael Moulding claims Ashton town centre has a higher ratio of licensed premises than Wigan and Leigh and has called for a CIZ to be brought in.

He said: “The condensed area of the town centre packed with licensed premises undoubtedly results in detrimental cumulative impacts for the town.

“At the rate Wigan Council is going, Ashton will have double the licensed premises in the equivalent area of Wigan town centre and three times as many as Leigh where zones are already in operation.

“I believe Wigan Council will be supported by such a policy not only by the majority of residents in the town but local businesses including current owners of licensed premises who are struggling because of saturation.”

Mr Moulding has on several occasions in recent years raised concerns about anti-social behaviour in the Ashton area in addition to the impact of the number of licensed establishments.

Wigan Council’s service manager of regulatory services said further zones across the borough would be considered if evidence suggested they were required.

Julie Middlehurst said: “As a licensing authority we can only consider introducing a cumulative impact zone where we have evidence that the number of premises in an area is adversely affecting the promotion of the licensing objectives i.e. the number, nature or type of premises is creating serious problems of nuisance, crime or disorder.

“Such zones were introduced in Wigan and Leigh town centres because we had this evidence to support their introduction.

“We regularly review data, including alcohol related crime and anti-social behaviour, and should this reveal that any part of the borough is experiencing high levels of alcohol related issues, then we would of course consider introducing further zones.”

The Cumulative Impact Policy has proved controversial and sparked criticism it is doing more harm than good.

A decision last year to reject a bid to open a real ale bar in Hallgate was blasted by Makerfield Yvonne Fovargue.

She said: “I fully understand that the council and local police are concerned about the impact of crime and anti-social behaviour in the town centre but fail to see how a small micro-brewery attracting a very different demographic to other establishments in the town centre would add to this.”

Karl Battersby, director of economy and environment, said: “While each case is assessed on its individual merits, it is a presumption that an application for another drinking establishment in the cumulative impact zone will be refused under this policy.

“The policy specifically encourages restaurants, cafes, theatres and cinemas in the town centre CIP zone as its aim is to create a vibrant, but more diverse night time economy.”