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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 November, 2003, 19:06 GMT
Drink fuels crime wave - claim
North Parade, Aberystwyth
Alcohol could soon be banned from Aberystwyth centre
Business leaders in Aberystwyth are blaming the rise in violent crime on the town being turned into a "drinking Mecca".

Since last year some nightclubs in the seaside town have been granted licences to stay open until two in the morning.

Aberystwyth Chamber of Trade's leader claims the influx of stag and hen parties is part of the reason why the town has seen an upsurge in violent crime.

Violence incidents there more than doubled over the summer and police accepts that the late night licences are attracting more visitors - especially at weekends.

Aberystwyth has become a drinkers Mecca, sucking people into the town from a wide area, especially those taking part in stag and hen nights
Ceredig Davies, Chamber of Trade

Police are now trying to get an alcohol-ban introduced on the streets of the seaside town.

Ceredig Davies - secretary of the local chamber of trade which represents more than 70 businesses B&Bs, hotels and other business - said allowing nightspots to stay open until 1100 GMT on some nights has aggravated the problem.

Hotspots

"Because of the late licences Aberystwyth has become a drinkers Mecca, sucking people into the town from a wide area, especially those taking part in stag and hen nights," he said.

"I'm sure some of the problems are caused because people from different areas don't get on with each other."

The rise in crime had already started to hit businesses.

"It will affect some areas because there are hotspots like North Parade where people don't want to stay too long because of people drinking on the street," he said.

Ceredig Davies
Ceredig Davies: 'Businesses will be affected"

"The general public aren't often on the sharp end of violence because the violent crime occurs between people who drink.

"But people do feel intimidated and unless we ban drinking in the streets there will be a knock-on effect."

Peter Fraser, vice chair of the local Licensed Victuallers Association, said that later drinking hours had reduced congestion at "flashpoint areas" in some parts after 1100 GMT.

"But I suppose this is balanced out by people drinking for longer into the night which can also cause problems," he said.

Chief Superintendent Alun Williams said that new crime recording standards had had an impact on the violence statistics.

There were over 240 violent attacks in Aberystwyth from June to August, and he agreed that more people were now drinking in the town.

Peter Fraser
Peter Fraser claims longer opening hours have cut 'flashpoints'

"The crime figures show that more people from Lampeter and Cardigan are going to Aberystywth at weekends because that is where the concentration of nightclubs are based," he said

There were also far more officers patrolling on foot in Aberystwyth during peak periods, he said.

"This together, with the increased use of CCTV, brings these offences to our attention which could have previously gone unreported."

But Felicity James, Ceredigion's Victim Support co-ordinator, said there had been such an increase in workload that her Ceredigion referrals now outstripped those for her north Carmarthenshire patch.




SEE ALSO:
Town centre alcohol ban call
30 Oct 03  |  Mid
Drinking ban 'a success'
01 Oct 03  |  Southern Counties
The cost of binge drinking
18 Oct 03  |  Southern Counties
Street drinkers get yellow card
12 Sep 03  |  Northern Ireland


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