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Calls for end to 24 hour drinking in Weymouth
TIME PLEASE: Weymouth's 24 hour drinking culture has been blamed for the serious outbreaks of violence over the weekend
LAST orders should be called on Weymouth’s 24-hour drinking culture after a spate of early morning violence, locals have said.
They warned that fights and rowdiness in the small hours is causing a headache for residents and affecting the resort’s image.
Calls have been stepped up in the wake of two serious incidents over last weekend between 6am and 7am, the latest involving an assault on a police officer.
Keith Treggiden of the Rendezvous, whose member of staff was a victim of an attack in an incident last Friday, said the Pubwatch group he heads is trying to get venues to work together and come to a ‘happy medium’ on earlier closing before authorities force them to act.
Relaxed licensing laws in 2005 stopped the 2am mass exodus from clubs.
Evidence suggests more people are drinking at home and coming out later, resulting in incidents happening throughout the night.
This is putting pressure on already challenged police resources, said Dorset Police Federation chairman Clive Chamberlain.
“Do people really want a society where you have drunken people staggering around at six o’clock in the morning?” he asked.
Decisions on licensed premises’ hours are made by Weymouth and Portland Borough Council in consultation with the police.
An Early Morning Restriction Order (EMRO) prohibiting alcohol sales at establishments was ruled out this year when police said they wanted to work with landlords to deal with the issues.
That order is set to be reviewed and Mayor of Weymouth and Portland Ray Banham said there was a case for getting venues to shut earlier, suggesting 2am.
He said: “I’m very concerned, particularly after what has |happened recently.
“I believe it’s time for a review.”
Butcher Dennis Spurr said the situation at weekends was ‘ridiculous’ as drunken people filled the streets in the early hours, fighting, urinating and having sex in doorways.
“You see a different side to Weymouth at that time of the morning and it’s not nice,” he said.
“By all means have a good time but why allow people to drink until six o’clock in the morning?”
Mark Cole of the Bourneville Hotel said incidents needed to be reported, helping strengthen police resources.
He added: “There has been a lot of problems this summer. Something has to be done.”
Hoteliers group chairman Dave Price said the licensing hours were ‘far too relaxed’.
Mr Treggiden said: “Early closing may get forced upon us. Our members need to show unity and work together and find a happy medium.”
He added: “I don’t actually think Weymouth is as troublesome as people think.”
Steve Parker of the Weymouth Bars, which has a licence until 4.30am, said a lot of jobs rely on the night time economy and any changes would have a big effect.
He added: “What I don’t agree with is the cheap price of alcohol in supermarkets. People are getting tanked up before they come out.”
Police and council working on a solution
INSPECTOR Les Fry of Weymouth and Portland police said he had been working with the council and was reviewing the situation.
Tools such as the EMRO and the late night levy were available to authorities, he said.
Insp Fry added: “We are working with licensees to make Weymouth and Portland a safer place.
“What we don’t want to do is to have a knee-jerk reaction.”
Community safety spokesman for the council Geoff Petherick added: “Late night drinking and opening hours is something we’re looking at closely.
“Les Fry was keen to have a situation where the opening hours were on a voluntary basis and if that isn’t working we should look at it again.
At the moment the level of incidents suggests it is working and we shouldn’t go down the enforcement route.
“Generally speaking crime is going down and we don’t believe it’s necessary to go out of our way to make life difficult for those who want to remain open.”
What do you think should be done about Weymouth's night time economy ?
Is it time to cut back opening hours or are such factors as cheap alcohol at fault?
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