Restricted drinking zone

Plans to restrict the number of bars and pubs in Reading town centre are not fair on small businesses, according to a licencing consultant in the town.

Bill Donne told Heart the council's plans to create a "cumulative impact policy" will mean small businesses will automatically get shut out, while large chains will think nothing of paying £25,000 in legal fees to challenge the licence dismissal.

He said it will not be fair, "It actually makes it very difficult for small businessmen, because if they wish to appeal, they'll incur something like £25,000 in legal fees before they've even opened. The big players will think nothing of risking that amount of money to take the matter to the High Court."

The council is considering the idea in an attempt to reduce antisocial behaviour and crime linked to late night drinking. It would mean more restaurants and family-friendly venues would be granted licences, and there would be a cap on "vertical drinking" bars and clubs.

But Bill Donne told Heart that may mean we could end up with a situation similar to that in Brighton, "If people can't get into an area that's covered by the cumulative impact zone, they will simply go to the next street along. That has happened in Brighton and the council reacted there, by extending the zone."

Reading Borough Council said the idea will create a more varied night time economy and reduce antisocial behaviour at night in the town. The scheme is currently under public consultation for the next three months.

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