Licensing restrictions could be imposed in Sheffield city centre after survey finds people feel 'unsafe'

West Street, Sheffield.
West Street, Sheffield.

Licensing changes could be brought in on one of Sheffield's main nightlife areas to restrict the number of businesses selling alcohol after a council survey found people felt unsafe or intimidated in the area.

Sheffield Council carried out a survey on people's views of the West Street and Devonshire Green area and could now introduce a cumulative impact policy (CIP), which would see applicants bidding for a licence have to prove they would not add to existing problems.

Coun Bryan Lodge.

Coun Bryan Lodge.

More than 800 people completed the online survey with 59 per cent saying they felt unsafe or intimidated and 58 per cent saying they found it hard to relax in the area.

Coun Bryan Lodge, cabinet member for the environment, said: "We are really grateful to those of you who took the time to let us know your views.

“We will be sharing these findings with our colleagues in the council who are responsible for tackling the social issues this survey has identified as needing further work.

“The findings are invaluable in helping us decide what we need to do in the future to address the concerns expressed by people who have told us that whilst they enjoy the area they think certain behaviours need to be tackled.”

More than half of those who completed the questionnaire - 56 per cent - said they would recommend a visit to West Street and Devonshire Green but 87 per cent said they would like to see more boutique shops in the area.

But people suggested greater support for homeless people, increased CCTV, a stronger police presence, more lighting on side streets and the possible introduction of a "responsible retailers" scheme for off-licences and supermarkets selling alcohol.

Director of Public Health, Greg Fell added: “West Street and Devonshire Green are well represented in the city’s Best Bar None scheme for responsible alcohol retailers and Sheffield as a whole has Purple Flag status for a safer night-time economy.

“Our response will also need to focus on the health and welfare of people whose street behaviour may make visiting the area less pleasant.”

Most of those who completed the survey said they visited the area for leisure but 84 per cent said they'd seen people begging in the area, with 74 per cent saying they'd seen people rough sleeping.

A total of 52 per cent of people saying that street begging or drinking affected their enjoyment of the area and only 22 per cent said they'd recommend a visit to the area after 11pm.

Almost three-quarters of respondents said they'd like to see less off-licences, 64 per cent said fewer casinos would be welcomes and 56 per cent called for less fast food and takeaway outlets.

The findings from the survey, along with crime and antisocial behaviour statistics will now be used to decide whether a CIP should be introduced.

The CIP would see licence applications to sell alcohol in a designated zone turned down, unless the applicant can show they will not add to existing problems.

It would not stop licences from being issued but require traders to put in place special measures, including shorter opening hours, to reduced any further problems.

The survey and crime statistics will be presented to the council's licensing committee who will decided whether to apply a CIP to the area.

Coun Douglas Johnson, councillor for the city ward, said: "It’s positive news that many people enjoy the Devonshire Green area but it’s no surprise that many people are unhappy with street drinking. This is a daily issue for people who live here."