Southend Council to introduce stricter regulations on pub landlords in fight against anti-social behaviour

Spotting drug users, handing out water to drunk customers and scrapping alcohol incentives are just some of the responsibilities that pubs and bars in Southend may soon have to adopt.

Members of Southend Council’s cabinet have agreed that regulations need to be tightened so that pubs and bars take more responsibility when serving alcohol.

Councillors believe that licensed businesses should be helping to tackle anti-social behaviour and preventing alcohol-fuelled problems inside and outside their premises.

At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday afternoon council leaders agreed to a wealth of new rules, ranging from asking bouncers to offer glasses of water and provide advice to customers who are intoxicated to requiring staff members to attend courses for spotting signs of substance abuse.

Bars and pubs could also be forced to take on earlier closing times if they are located in areas where there are high levels of anti-social behaviour and violent crime.

Councillor Martin Terry, who oversees public safety, has said that businesses with a license to sell alcohol must abandon business models that centre on “loading people up with a lot of alcohol” and instead start “taking responsibility for what happens beyond their premises”.

On Tuesday, it was the second time the cabbinet had considered the policy, having previously supported it in June. It was brought back this month following a consultation.

Council documents show that among the responses was the Public Health Department, which said it represents “really positive steps” and Essex Police, which noted they have “only positive comments”.

A council officer said the responses had been positive and resulted in only minor changes, such as requiring licensed premises to take more responsibility for what happens outside of their venue including putting a bigger emphasis on the need to report anti-social behaviour.

During the cabinet meeting, councillors chose not to comment on the policy, but gave it unanimous approval.

Critics of the scheme such as Joan Tiney, chair of the Seafront Traders Association and owner of The Borough Hotel, on Marine Parade, have said that many of the proposals, such as those focussing on staff training and refusing to serve intoxicated customers, are rules pubs already enforce.

The policy will next be discussed by councillors at a full council meeting in December.


Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter