COUNCILLORS have backed new licensing rules which aim to encourage businesses to open in Newport city centre and reduce incidents of disorder.

A new licensing policy adopted by Newport City Council could pave the way for new premises to open in the city centre after coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

City councillors voiced support for the plan at a meeting on Tuesday and said it could help boost Newport’s night-time economy.

The main change is the removal of the ‘cumulative impact policy’ across Newport city centre, which has meant there is a presumption that applications for new premises licenses are refused.

The policy was introduced at the request of Gwent Police in 2015 due to “a significant concentration of alcohol-led late-night venues” in the city centre, along with a high number of assaults and other related crime and disorder in the area.

But Cllr Ray Truman, cabinet member for licensing and regulation, said there is now “no evidence the city centre has too many licensed premises”.

“Actually the reverse is true and the council would welcome applications from responsible businesses,” Cllr Truman said.

“This would help the regeneration of the area and encourage a mix of visitors to the evening and night-time economy and improve the variety of premises in the city.”

New rules for premises opening in the city centre will be introduced, but license applications will no longer be subject to a presumption of refusal.

Instead, operators will be expected to show in their applications that premises will not add to problems in the area.

Applicants will also be expected to engage with residents when submitting an application, and ensure they meet objectives around nuisance, disorder and litter to reduce such incidents.

Licensing activity for pubs and bars will end no later than 2.30 am and alcohol sales will end at 3.30 am for nightclubs.

Last entry into nightclubs will also be set at 2 am.

Cllr Truman said the changes “strike the right balance” between increasing the variety of premises while protecting customers and encouraging responsible management.

Cllr David Fouweather said anything which helps bring back “a vibrant night-time economy” is welcomed and supported the “sensible proposals”.

“I hope we can bring back a night-time economy that resembles the 1980s when people went into Newport city centre to have a good time and enjoy themselves safely,” he said.

Cllr William Routley said the policy would improve understanding of the rules for businesses, revellers and residents.

“This policy gives clear direction for anyone applying for an application,” he said.

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