D-day for city centre streetsPosted: December 15, 2011
Cardiff Council will decide today whether Greyfriars Road and Churchill Way will join St Mary Street, City Road And Crwys Road in becoming alcohol saturation zones.
Greyfriars Road has seen a 387% rise in violent crime in the past two years and is the second busiest street in Cardiff, after St Mary Street, for violent crime incidents. Churchill Way has far fewer violent crimes but police say due to its high number of residential and business properties it warrants saturation zone status as well.
But when I’ve told Cardiffians about this most don’t have a clue what a saturation zone is, let alone that the city has three of them. So here at Cardiff Drinks we are going to educate the masses and give you some info to add to your pub knowledge. Pub knowledge is power.
It all begins when the police approach the local authority with concerns over the number of licensed premises within an area, especially if crime rates are rising. They ask the council to consider a saturation policy to help tackle the problem and stop any more venues opening.
A saturation zone, once agreed by the council, creates a presumption that an application for a new licensed premises will be refused in a certain area. A license will only be granted if the applicant can demonstrate the proposed venue will have no detrimental effect on these licensing objectives:
- Prevention of crime and disorder
- Public safety
- Prevention of public nuisance
- Protection of children from harm
It is purposefully difficult for anyone to prove they won’t cause a possible negative effect on these objectives. In an interview with Cardiff Drinks, Sergeant Scott Lloyd, Licensing Officer for Cardiff, said: “It’s just a presumption if you like that…people have said that they’re guilty until proven innocent.” Not exactly in line with our courts of law is it.
But it’s not just new pubs and clubs that will not gain licenses. Saturation policies cover any new club, pub, restaurant, supermarket, off-license, live-music venue, theatre or anything else that might want to serve or sell alcohol. And the South Wales Echo has run many stories on business people frustrated by the policy that targets all licensed venues.
Cathays Councillor Simon Pickard wants saturation zones to target pubs and clubs specifically. Writing in support of the principle of saturation zones around Greyfriars Road and Churchill Way, he said: “I would suggest that the policy should more clearly target vertical drinking establishments which serve alcohol beyond midnight, whilst making it clear that traditional live music venues or restaurants which might want an alcohol license until midnight would be welcomed rather than discouraged.” A view Councillor Gavin Cox, deputy chairman of the council’s licensing committee, firmly agrees with.
Back in January 2005, the saturation zone on St Mary Street was one of the first to be set up in the UK. But once the council creates a saturation zone, does it reduce the violent crime which occurs most around the city centre late at night?
When asked how the saturation zone helped tackle crime and disorder on St Mary Street, Sgt Lloyd said:
Saturation zones are clearly not the panacea for crime and disorder in Cardiff after dark. They are just one of many tools used by police and the council to combat crime and disorder.
But they are proving a popular and useful tool, which is why they are being sought by the police for Greyfriars Road and Churchill Way.
Sgt Lloyd explains the police’s reasoning behind requesting the zone for these two streets:
However, the police can only make a request to the local authority. In the end it is up to the council to weigh up all the factors and decide whether Greyfriars Road and Churchill Way need to have their drinks venues capped. By the end of today we’ll know if they will join St Mary Street, City Road and Crwys Road, in becoming saturation zones. For good or for bad.