'No evidence' of anti-social behaviour at The Ridings as alcohol licence extended

A committee ruled that claims about the prospects of anti-social behaviour at The Ridings were "not supported"
A committee ruled that claims about the prospects of anti-social behaviour at The Ridings were "not supported"

A new restaurant in the Ridings Shopping Centre has been given permission to serve alcohol for longer after Wakefield Council concluded it was unlikely to cause anti-social behaviour.

The Keg and Kitchen, which opened in December, will be allowed to sell booze between 10am and 11pm every day of the week when a new five-screen cinema opens at the centre this summer.

It marks an extension of its current licensing hours, which run from 10am to 6pm between Mondays and Saturdays and 11am to 5pm on Sundays.

Two local councillors, Olivia Rowley and Ros Lund, had objected to the idea on the grounds the late closing time may result in petty crime in and around the Ridings.

But neither was able to attend a licensing hearing on Tuesday, where a committee ruled that their fears were "not supported by any evidence".

Representing the applicants, solicitor Piers Warne said: "Anti-social behaviour is negligible - it's pretty much non-existent at the centre, it has to be said.

"When the shops close, they all have shutters which come down, so it's like going down a high street after everything's closed.

"The suspicion that anti-social behaviour is happening at the Ridings is simply not the case.

"One of the issues raised is that there are eight entrances and exits to the site. However the management's only proposing to have two open at that time.

"Of course, they can also refuse entry to anyone coming in if they see fit to do so."

Four security officers will be on duty late into the night once the cinema, which will close around midnight, opens in May.

Mr Warne said that although alcohol accounts for just five per cent of the Keg and Kitchen's sales, the cinema operator's interest in the Ridings was reliant on a "good food and beverage offer".

He added: "It's a very difficult time for retail and for shopping centres in particular.

"We have to acknoweledge that retail needs a helping hand from its leisure offer.

"It's no longer enough, I'm afraid, to rely on traditional anchor stores to keep everything going.

"This is a significant part of the leisure the Ridings is looking to offer".

The Keg and Kitchen had wanted to start serving alcohol at 9am each day, but this was rejected by the councillors on the committee, who felt it would be unnecessary.

Asked by committee chair Clive Tennant why the restaurant wanted to start selling booze at that time, Mr Warne replied: "There's no real pressing need for the extra hour, but we just thought it would be nice for people who are on holiday to come in and have a glass of Prosecco before they start shopping.

"But that's not key to the application."