Leeds city centre party hotspot is at “saturation” point

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Plans for a round-the-clock takeaway in a street near a notorious Leeds city centre party hotspot have been temporarily approved, despite objections from police and claims that resources are at “saturation” point.

A Leeds City Council licensing panel has granted a six month time limited approval for the bid by Space to Eat for late night refreshments served until 5am at the venue in Hirst’s Yard, Duncan Street.

This was despite a stark warning from West Yorkshire police about the impact of any new late-night premises in the vicinity.

A report to the panel said the venue sits in the current “red zone” of the city, and stressed that the preferred policy is to “seek to refuse all applications in these red areas” because they “cannot support any more premises opening or extending their hours no matter how impressive the concept or application is”.

The report added: “The location of these premises is in very close proximity to a multitude of other licensed premises in this area. It is an alcohol related violent crime hotspot for robbery, assault and theft. The peak time for crime is between midnight and 05:00 hrs. The majority of hours of operation applied for...fall right in to these peak times.”

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Police say resources frequently have to be deployed and “the saturation of the area is such that determining which venues may bear some responsibility for the issues is practically impossible”.

The report to the panel added that the Briggate/Call Lane area has experienced a 17 per cent rise in reported crime since the last review of crime statistics a year ago.

“The area is not improving – it is deteriorating,” the report said.

“Hirst’s Yard has its own particular problems and much work has been carried out between operators, local police officers and licensing officers to help reduce the amount of assaults, robberies and drug issues therein.

“I am not sure that creating another late night refreshment outlet, which would encourage people to stay in that congested area, would improve the area.”

The YEP reported in December that West Yorkshire Police were calling on council bosses to help slash the number of visitors to Leeds city centre amid concerns about rising levels of crime and disorder in areas that are already hotspots for booze-fuelled trouble.

This was after new figures revealed that public order offences in the centre of the city rose by 103 per cent in one 12 month period.

The year on year rise, covering September to August, also revealed a 41 per cent increase in incidents of affray, a 33 per cent rise in assault incidents and a 64 per cent rise in robberies.

It contributed to a 13 per cent overall increase in crime and disorder in Leeds city centre from 2014/15 to 2015/16.

West Yorkshire Police admits that the Call Lane/Briggate and Woodhouse Lane areas are “problematic”, as they are the source of 50 per cent of all city centre crime and disorder at weekends - 35 per cent and 15 per cent respectively.

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