They have been asking that the area is recognised as ‘saturated’ with licensed premises. Clerkenwell ward has 135 licensed premises – that’s about one for every 35 households!
So no more licenses will now be issued: and existing licensed premises will have to be good neighbours or risk losing their license to a better operator.
This is one of the first examples of residents fighting back against the flood of licensed premises following Labour’s Licensing Act, but it may well not be the last.
I’ve just sent in my witness statement in a case supported by residents in the Westbourne Road and Ellington Street area. This is a residential neighbourhood, away from main roads, with schools, churches, a children’s centre and adventure playground. Not the obvious place for a boom in booze – yet that’s what’s happening.
The Ellington Street Residents Association (ESRA) have found there are already 27 off-licences within 500 metres of the shop where yet another off-licence wants to open up. Staggering distance, you might say.
The licensing law gives few grounds for councils to reject such applications, despite, in this case, so much local opposition. St Mary’s ward councillor James Kempton was particularly frustrated that the petition of over 450 signatures was effectively marginalised. Now the case is going to court, with a hearing later this month.
The heart of Westbourne Road’s little shopping parade used to be the local post office. But like so many in Islington, it was closed as part of the notorious ‘Network Renewal’ programme. I find it deeply ironic that as one Government policy has robbed this neighbourhood of its post office, another now allows the flooding of the area with off-licences.