LICENSING: A legacy to be proud of

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I am replying to your article that Tynemouth residents are being urged by MP Alan Campbell to have their say if they want restrictions on late-night licences to continue, (News Guardian, August 2).

It stated that a cumulative impact policy was put in place for Front Street in Tynemouth five years ago. In fact, the previous policy was implemented in 2014 and it covers a wide area of Tynemouth Village, not just Front Street.

The cumulative impact area is bordered by Percy Park Road, Bath Terrace, East Street, Lovaine Row and Prudhoe Terrace. The council has helpfully supplied a map on its website.

The article also states that Mr Campbell worked alongside residents and community groups to ensure North Tyneside Council’s licensing policy included this policy.

That is news to me because, as a former Tynemouth ward councillor, I was the only person actively involved in mobilising residents to respond to the licensing consultation.

The Tynemouth cumulative impact submissions in the licensing proposals on the council website refer to the participation of one ward councillor, i.e. me. There is no mention of Mr Campbell contributing to this campaign.

Licensing policies had previously been consulted on in 2007 and 2010, but because they were badly publicised residents didn’t have much opportunity to comment.

For the cumulative impact policy to be introduced, I needed to raise awareness so when the next consultation opened in 2013, I ensured that people most affected could provide their own experiences of the drinking culture in Tynemouth.

I distributed questionnaires and survey forms to households around Tynemouth Village and encouraged people to send them back to the council.

I was anxious for a good response because government guidance was that there should be an evidential basis for any decision to adopt a cumulative impact policy. Unless local people came forward in sufficient numbers with their individual experiences of alcohol-related anti-social behaviour, the council, as in previous consultations, would be unable to implement it.

In the end, my hard work and effort paid off and 117 responses were received. Residents gave examples of the behaviour they had witnessed due to the night time economy that had evolved in Tynemouth. Complaints about noise, drunken behaviour, arguing, shouting, fighting and local residents frightened to walk down Front Street were given.

Responses were also received from resident associations and other community groups, all of whom strongly supported the cumulative impact policy.

Those responses provided the evidence I wanted and the council got a sufficiently high response to the consultation for debate.

The council, at last, had evidence of the need to curb the number of licensed premises and it was able to adopt a cumulative impact policy for Tynemouth in July 2014.

I had put a lot of effort and research into campaigning for this policy, including accompanying street pastors on night time patrols to gather evidence. I regard its introduction as one of my key achievements as Tynemouth councillor and it is a legacy I am proud of.

The current draft licensing policy is on the council website and views are welcome from residents and businesses.

Forward views to liquor.licensing@northtyneside.gov.uk or to the licensing team at Block C Killingworth Site, Harvey Combe, Killingworth, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE12 6UB. The public consultation closes on September 16.

Jean McLaughlin

Tynemouth