Redbridge licensing crackdown

Redbridge Council plans to become much stricter about alcohol licences on Ilford Lane in response to anti-social behaviour and residents’ complaints.

The licensing committee met virtually on Wednesday September 2 and voted to approve the council’s proposed licensing policy for the next five years.

One of the major changes proposed is to extend Ilford town’s “cumulative impact zone” to cover the entirety of Ilford Lane.

This means new licences or significant changes to existing licences within the zone will be refused unless the applicant can demonstrate they will not add to the area’s problems.

Currently there are 15 shops licensed to sell alcohol on Ilford Lane and one that holds a 24-hour licence.

Some Redbridge residents who took part in a public consultation on the proposal, held from March 6 to July 25, were against the sale of alcohol late at night.

One respondent said: “Having the availability of drinks late night is an invitation to unwanted trouble. The community needs to feel safe. People can buy their drinks during reasonable hours.”

Another said: “The problems in the Ilford Lane area have demonstrated that current policies are not working, despite extensive enforcement in recent times.

“I, therefore, believe that no licence to sell alcohol should be grated in the Ilford Lane including residential areas.”

However, others argued that too much emphasis was being placed on the sale of alcohol as the cause of the area’s problems and that there was no need for the council to change its policies.

One respondent said: “While I do understand that alcohol does play its part, it is not the sole problem, and licensed premises are being condemned with it all.”

At the meeting, committee members discussed the importance of supporting residents’ quality of life, without crippling the local economy.

Cllr Ruth Clark (Con, Fairlop) said: “Our night time economy is on its knees in this borough. In the next couple of years, because of coronavirus, we are going to lose a lot.

“We need to keep our children safe in this borough, not have them going up to London.”

Cllr Sadiq Kothia (Lab, Fullwell) said: “We need to strike the right balance that our night time economy is protected and supported but, at the same time, that our residents feel safe.”

The proposed licensing policy also reduces the size of two other cumulative impact zones in South Woodford and Gants Hill.

The proposed policy will now be voted on at the next meeting of full council on September 17.

Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter