On 15 May 2019, Roberta Blackman-Woods, MP for the City of Durham, secured a Westminster Hall debate to raise the issue of licensing in Durham City.
As Durham County Council has recently consulted on its Statement of Licensing Policy, Roberta called the debate to ask the Government how existing legislation can be used to ensure that Durham City gets a licensing policy that works for it.
During the debate, Roberta raised concerns about public safety, crime and disorder in the city, the growth of the night-time economy at the expense of other city centre businesses, the increasing number of hen and stag parties causing disruption during the daytime, and the disturbance that the number of venues with late licenses is having on those who live in the city.
Roberta also used examples of other local authorities that seem to have far more robust licensing policies, such as Newcastle City Council, Cheshire West and Chester Council, and Cambridge City Council to show how the current licensing regime in Durham needs a massive overhaul, and must balance the needs of residents, families in the city, and visitors as well.
Roberta contacted the council as part of its review to outline the problems with the current licensing policy, and how this has affected the city centre. You can read Roberta’s submission to the council by visiting her website www.roberta.org.uk.
“I have been dealing with licensing problems in Durham since 2006 and, despite raising this with the local authority on many occasions, the granting of licenses seems to continue unabated.
As Durham County Council recently consulted on its existing Licensing Policy, I wrote to the local authority to outline how its current policy isn’t suitable for the city centre and also called a Westminster Hall debate to discuss this issue. I also asked the Government how the council can continue granting licenses, often up to 2am and beyond, in a small, historic city such as Durham that is already over-saturated with drinking establishments.
As well as raising my concerns, and talking about the the issues that residents and businesses have contacted me about, I also highlighted what the council could be doing to make sure that licensing works in Durham, such as planning for other types of entertainment, making it a more welcoming place for children and families, improving the cultural facilities in the city, and putting a plan in place to balance the needs of everyone who uses the city centre to deliver a better quality of life for residents.
It’s clear that the licensing policy in Durham needs to be massively changed, and the Minister made it clear that he felt the local authority could do more within the existing legislation to protect the city centre.
I look forward to working with the local authority to ensure that the future Statement of Licensing Policy is far more robust and meets the needs of Durham City. I will also be writing to the Minister to again raise the issue of Temporary Events Notices.”