Leeds late night gaming den plan ‘poses a risk to youngsters’

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Plans for a round-the-clock video gaming den in Leeds city centre have attracted a flurry of objections from businesses and the police, with particular concern that it will put youngsters at risk.

An initial application for The E Den in Church Walk would have seen it operate until 6am (up to 21 hours a day), selling alcohol and food until 5am.

Police and local businesses have objected, saying it is near family facilities, and the name is inappropriate and will attract drug users and street drinkers.

Following the initial objections, the proposed hours of operation were slashed, with a 1.30am weekend cut-off for selling alcohol, playing music and serving hot food. However a dossier of paperwork being presented to a decision-making council licensing panel next week at Leeds Civic Hall says police are particularly concerned about child safety, because there is no “cut off” time for younger gamers. The plan will put some young people in danger, the force says, and will be a “magnet” for troublemakers.

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The Church Walk area is already subject to a cumulative impact policy, which allows the authorities to limit the number of late night spots in a particular zone. An objection letter from West Yorkshire Police also notes that: “There have been, and currently still are, serious issues in the immediate area around Mecca Bingo, especially during daytime hours, with street drinkers who take drugs and abuse alcohol. Any new venue which opens and sells alcohol is a target for these poor unfortunates, who can be extremely intimidating.”

Another objector, a local firm, writes that the presence of the venue “poses a serious threat” to the security of nearby offices and what is “an established and respected business destination”.

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