On September 26th, I am speaking in a debate being organised by the Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce. The question is: “This house believes that Brighton’s night time economy is tarnishing the city’s brand”. I will be speaking in favour of the question. Other speakers include Justin Manning from the Queen’s Hotel, Nigel Liddell of the Brighton & Hove Business Crime Reduction Partnership, and Ian Chisnall, organiser of Brighton & Hove Street Pastors.
I would be interested in what you think so that I can properly think through the issues.
I come to this issue as someone who feels that, put quite simply, aspects of the night time economy threatens the economy of Brighton, including other parts of the night time economy which are essential for the economic well being of the City.
For example, take so called ‘party houses’. Rather than the traditional tourist infrastructure (hotels, restaurants, etc.) benefiting from weekend visitors and other tourists, these houses are a nightmare for neighbours. They facilitate the ‘front-loading’ of alcohol before these visitors descending on the town centre where their behaviour is often not conducive for others (guests staying in hotels, families out for dinner, theatre goers, etc.).
The spending power of those on alcohol-fuelled weekend breaks (hen and stag events) is limited. They are focused on alcohol outlets that encourage/facilitate further drinking. Having lived in the town centre for many years, and having represented Regency Ward on the old Brighton Borough Council, I now actively avoid going into the centre of Brighton after 8pm on a Friday or Saturday evening. My spending power is thus denied those restaurants and facilities that might otherwise have benefited from it.
For a year I chaired the Licensing Committee on Brighton Borough Council. That year, because of close co-operation between the Council, Sussex Police and licensees, we were able to regulate the night time economy in a way that incidents of violence were clamped down on. Licensees who failed to co-operate risked having their Public Entertainment Licences revoked. The result was that on New Year’s Eve 1986, there was not a single arrest for violence or drunken disorder in Brighton.
Unless we ensure that the night time economy is robustly managed, the image of the City will become tarnished, at great cost to businesses and residents alike.
Let me know what you think.
(Note: when this item was first posted I referred to no arrests in 2006. It should have been 1986. My apologies).