Street-drinking has cast a shadow over a Leeds community, a damning letter from West Yorkshire Police claims.
Drink-related violence and aggressive and intimidating behaviour in parts of Harehills have been exacerbated by the round-the-clock availability of alcohol, the letter, sent to Leeds City Council’s licensing team, claims.
Painting a grim picture of life in the area, it adds that some people feel too afraid to walk the streets, and that many residents find themselves unable to sleep due to “shouting and fighting”.
The letter was an objection to an application for the Krakus off-licence in Harehills Road to extend its hours of alcohol sales to 24 hours a day. It included claims from a nearby resident that previously-granted 24-hour licences have blighted the community.
It read: “Even though the resident is closer to Harehills Road than Harehills Lane, he has reported the community still suffers as a result of previous 24-hour licences being granted. This is due to people who are already very drunk, fighting and arguing in the street who are then able to walk off at 4am or 5am and be back within 10 minutes having purchased more alcohol.”
It added that during meetings with the police, local residents have repeatedly reported large groups regularly congregating outside off licences around Harehills.
It read: “(They) display intimidating behaviour, fighting, damaging property and making noise. Women report feeling intimidated as they try to make their way past these groups, often being subjected to lewd comments.
“Mothers have to steer pushchairs onto the road in order to get past these groups who refuse to move. It has led to many residents, particularly women and older people, feeling that they do not want to walk down their own high street during the daytime.
“The evenings are worse and many local people now refuse to walk around the area after dark, which in the winter means they are subjected to a very early curfew.
“However, even staying at home does not keep people from the negative effects of antisocial behaviour. Residents now find themselves disturbed and unable to sleep, due to the shouting and fighting of large groups of youths congregating in their streets until the early hours.
“For those residents experiencing this regularly, it has proved extremely stressful, as people are unable to get the sleep they need to be prepared for a working day.”
A representative from Krakus said it would combat any problems with regular staff training, CCTV and said it would not sell beer in any amount less than packs of four. It would also refuse to sell to drunk and disorderly or under-age customers.
Parts of Harehills are covered by a cumulative impact zone – an area authorities believe is more at risk of alcohol-related antisocial behaviour. Businesses in these areas are therefore much more difficult to obtain new alcohol licences for.
Harehills Road and Harehills Lane are not currently covered by the zone, but the police letter claims that enough evidence has been presented to support their inclusion for the coming year.
The application will be heard at a Leeds City Council licensing sub-committee meeting on Tuesday, January 15.