Former mayor attacks new alcohol restrictions claiming they are “ineffective and anti business”

Last year Cllr Farmer gave the then county council leader Nick Clarke a guided tour of Wisbech Town

Last year Cllr Farmer gave the then county council leader Nick Clarke a guided tour of Wisbech Town Centre - Credit: Archant

FORMER Wisbech mayor Jonathan Farmer claims that putting the brakes on drinks licences in the town centre is “ineffective, won’t make any difference and is anti business.”

Insp. Robin Sissons

Insp. Robin Sissons - Credit: Archant

He also accused police of wasting public money by calling for licensing reviews against premises based on “spurious complaints.”

Cllr Farmer said Wisbech had one of the lowest densities of pubs in the country and “what the town needs is more pubs and this measure isn’t going to help”.

Inspector Robin Sissons, Fenland sector inspector, hit back claiming enforcement is only against premises which behave irresponsibly.

“We have to evidence of premises being badly run, serving for example under age people or violent crime taking place or not abiding by the conditions of their licence,” he said. “To have a licence to sell alcohol is a privilege and it is something the people who have one should honour.”

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The clash with Cllr Farmer came during a BBC Radio Cambridgeshire interview about a cumulative impact programme for Wisbech which will restrict alcohol licences.

Cllr Farmer said the figure of 70 licensed premises within the centre had been mentioned but of these 30 were pubs and clubs, some of them having served drink for 300 years.

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What was needed, he said, was more police enforcement to stamp out trouble,

Cllr Farmer said that what the police were doing “is pretty dismal. “Licensing hearings are a burden on Fenland Council and prevent the licensing officer from doing her job”.

He said of 20 hearings all bar three had gone against the police and on appeal two of these were thrown out by magistrates.

“Police are wasting licensing officer’s time on these spurious complaints,” he said. Many applicants “with foreign sound names or are Asian have been objected to by police”.

Insp Sissons retorted that “it is concerning” to hear this since most were for new food outlets which want to sell alcohol to the migrant population.

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