Leeds's Turtle Bay allowed to trade later despite police concerns

Turtle Bay, Leeds city centre.
Turtle Bay, Leeds city centre.

A restaurant and bar in a “red zone” of Leeds city centre has been permitted to open and sell alcohol later on weekends – despite authorities’ concerns about a rise in late night crime in the surrounding area.

Turtle Bay’s application to vary its premises licence was considered by councillors for the third time today – a previous request was refused.

Inside the Caribbean-themed restaurant.

Inside the Caribbean-themed restaurant.

The three-person Licensing Sub-Committee decided by a majority to allow the establishment, which operates from The Light in Albion Street, to sell alcohol and play recorded music until 1am and extend its opening hours and provide late night refreshment to 1.30am on Fridays and Saturdays. Its previous licence allowed it to do those until an hour earlier.

West Yorkshire Police (WYP) and the Licensing Authority objected due to the restaurant’s placement within the “red zone” of the Leeds City Centre Cumulative Impact Area (CIA) – locations saturated by bars and similar businesses.

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Anthony Lyons, a solicitor for the Carribean-themed restaurant, said it is “food-led”, adding that the business operates in cumulative ’s in Liverpool, York, Middlesbrough, Birmingham and Bristol. “We trade without issue in those cities,” he said.

PC Cath Arkle, a WYP licensing officer, said that CIA policy means that requests such as Turtle Bay’s should be opposed unless the applicant is found to be an “exceptional operator”.

“Reported crime has risen in this area year-on-year for the last three years,” she said, adding that the peak time for offending was between 11pm and 4am, including a “peak within the peak” from 1am to 3am.

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Principal licensing officer for the council, Susan Holden, said: “We’ve already discussed this three times and the only thing that has changed in our view is that there is a 10 per cent increase in crime in that area.”

Read more: Restaurant review: Turtle Bay, The Light, Leeds