TIME is being called on yobs in Weymouth after a successful early closing scheme.

Business owners claim anti-social behaviour has reduced after late-night bars have shut their doors earlier.

A number of Weymouth pubs and clubs voluntarily agreed in January to stop the sale of alcohol at 5am instead of 7am.

The six-month pilot aimed to prevent the crossover between night-time revellers leaving pubs and clubs, and families enjoying the seafront in the early morning.

It followed calls last year to end Weymouth’s 24 hour drinking culture after a series of violent incidents.

Keith Treggiden, chairman of Weymouth Pubwatch and manager of the Rendezvous nightclub, said the number of anti-social behaviour incidents had decreased.

He said: “The only way we’ve been able to track that is by talking to the bar owners concerned.

“Incidents in their venues and outside their venues have dropped.”

Mr Treggiden said he understood it had been a trouble-free weekend, which saw many venues screen England’s first World Cup match.

Other premises that signed up as part of the scheme include The Nook, The Lazy Lizard, Actors, Dolce Vita, Goldfingers, Dusk, Tuatara-Bar/The Closet.

Mr Treggiden said they would be continuing with the scheme but alluded to the problem presented by late opening fast food restaurants which have kept people on the streets.

He said: “There are fast food restaurants in Weymouth that have not closed their doors at the same time as the bars.”

Butcher Dennis Spurr called for action to be taken last year after anti-social incidents regularly occurred in the early hours.

Mr Spurr, who owns the Fantastic Sausage Factory, said there had been a positive reaction since the pilot scheme’s introduction.

He said: “I would say it’s made a vast improvement. It’s so different in the town.

“The town was always full of people who had too much to drink. There would be fights and all sorts of things. It doesn’t seem to happen at all now.”

Pubs and clubs in the scheme are expected to finish alcohol sales by 5am and have their premises cleared by 5.15am.

Mr Spurr added: “I couldn’t really see the need shutting any earlier than that. These pubs do have businesses to run.”

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council has been working in partnership with Dorset Police and Public Health Dorset on the the early closure scheme.

The council is responsible for issuing licences for premises to sell alcohol.

Community safety spokesman Cllr Mike Goodman said: “We would like to praise the responsible actions of the pubs and clubs which have signed up to the scheme.

“This is showing a commitment from licensees and statutory organisations to ensure Weymouth is an enjoyable and safe place to go out at night.

“Those involved voluntarily reduced their opening hours which we hope will reduce anti-social behaviour in the town centre at night, but also ensure our night-time economy remains vibrant.”

Inspector Pete Browning of Weymouth Police said: “It’s refreshing to see many premises taking this voluntary step to help reduce anti-social behaviour in the area, and should be commended for their encouraging action in protecting their community.”