Lambeth Council has rejected plans for an early morning restriction order (EMRO), stating that the legislation needs re-examining to see if it is suitable for solving the problem of late-night nuisance from bars and clubs.
The decision, which follows Blackpool Council licensing committee’s rejection of an EMRO last month, has been announced after the London authority held a four day hearing in January and February 2014 to consider the measure, which would have banned the sale of alcohol in four licensed premises in the borough between midnight and 6am. The proposed EMRO area was from the corner of Wandsworth Road and North Street, Clapham.
Lambeth’s independent licensing panel acknowledged the long-term problems in the borough and residents concerns but said it was not convinced an EMRO was “the right tool for the job”.
Councillor Jack Hopkins, cabinet member for community safety, said: “Councils across the country have tried to use this new power, all coming up short. We have to find a better way to protect our residents from alcohol-related antisocial behaviour - but it’s starting to look like this legislation isn’t as helpful as it needs to be.
“Lambeth supports well run clubs and bars – they are vital to the local economy - but residents need protection from anti-social behaviour, noise, litter and congestion.
“We have worked incredibly hard with residents and businesses to tackle the long standing issues in this corner of Clapham, and that work will continue. Further, I was encouraged to see that on the fourth and final day of the hearing the business belatedly submitted a series of proposals to get on top of the problems.
“I shall be writing to the Home Secretary about Lambeth’s experience as clearly something isn’t working. Hopefully our insight will be helpful in a much-needed review and upgrade of this legislation.”
Responding to the decision, Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers strategic affairs director Kate Nicholls said: “We are obviously very pleased that the Council has seen common sense and not sought to penalise operators with a restriction that is tantamount to an ASBO for the area.
“The introduction of an EMRO would have undermined support for a Clapham BID and would have only imposed unnecessary sanctions which would have done nothing positive to solve any problems in the area.
“The ALMR has consistently reiterated its belief that Licensing Authorities should look to exhaust all voluntary schemes before resorting to an EMRO, which should only be considered when all else fails.
“We have seen levels of crime descending to all time lows, particularly anti-social behaviour offences around licensed premises. The rejection of this EMRO ensures that hard-working retailers in Clapham can continue to explore ways to encourage responsible drinking themselves as well as allowing them to operate on a level playing field.”
In January the Publican’s Morning Advertiser reported that almost four times as many people openly opposed plans for the measure (365) than supported it (92).
Lambeth was the first authority in the capital to launch a full EMRO consultation last year. Currently no other local authorities are consulting on the measure.