How an alcohol licence crackdown will improve Harehills

An increase in community activism and restrictions on new alcohol licences mean some are hoping for a bright future for Harehills.
An increase in community activism and restrictions on new alcohol licences mean some are hoping for a bright future for Harehills.

Leeds City Council have tightened up licencing laws in Harehills to try and tackle the amount of alcohol-related antisocial behaviour in the area.

Councillors and residents in an area of Leeds are hopeful that the new regulations will soon show positive signs.

The Cumulative Impact Policy (CIP) was introduced to Harehills last month following concerns about the amount of street-drinking in the area.

What are the new regulations and how will they work?

The regulations effectively make it more difficult for any new establishment wanting to sell alcohol, or for existing premises to extend their licensing hours.

Leeds City Council's policy statement on CIPs states: "A cumulative impact policy creates a rebuttable presumption that applications within the designated cumulative impact area for new premises licences or variations that are likely to add to the existing cumulative impact will normally be refused if relevant representations are received.

"It is for the applicant to demonstrate that their application would not add to the cumulative impact of such licensed premises in the area."

Why have the regulations been introduced in Harehills?

It follows concerns from police, who stated in response to a licensing application last month that some people in the area felt too afraid to walk the streets due to alcohol-fuelled antisocial behaviour. The area contains a high proportion of shops, and campaigners and residents believe this has contributed to a spike in drink-related antisocial behaviour.

It follows the successful use of CIPs in other areas of the city, including Horsforth, Headingley and two parts of Leeds City Centre.

Will it help improve Harehills?

Local councillor Salma Arif (Lab, Gipton and Harehills) certainly thinks so and said it could act as a catalyst to help the area turn a corner.

She said: “It’s early days, so we can’t measure its success just yet, but this is a positive move forward in Harehills.

“Other places with CIPs have seen positive changes over time. It’s not going to block applications, but it means they have to provide evidence in their submissions to the council that reassures residents.

“I am certainly happy that this has gone through. The people in the wards did want something to happen to stop the constant flow of off-licences being opened all the time.

“We want to see what happens in six to 12 months time, but I think local residents are pretty positive about this.”

What else is being done to improve the area?

Andy Birkbeck, from the Leeds City Council communities team told the meeting: “There is a lot of positive work going on at a local level. There has been no new resources going into the area.

“There is increased resident engagement, including resident activism."

Coun Kim Groves (Lab, Middleton Park) said: “This is really important. As you read through, you think of problems in other communities.

“In towns and cities across the country, there are problems like this that aren’t being solved, systemically, for years on end – so this is really interesting work.”