Council changes policy in answer to PSNI’s ‘crusade’ against late entertainment

Police in Mid Ulster object to entertainment after 12 on a weeknight and 1am at the weekend
Police in Mid Ulster object to entertainment after 12 on a weeknight and 1am at the weekend

The PSNI will be asked provide evidence to support any objections to licences in Mid Ulster following the backlash over its ‘crusade against’ late entertainment.

The Mail reported in January how police in the district had taken the unprecedented step of implementing a policy opposing all late-night entertainment licences in answer to “complaints regarding noise, nuisance and anti-social behaviour across the district”.

The letter was sent out to all premises, whether they were a church hall, nightclub, bar or hotel.

Now Chief Executive of Hospitality Ulster, Colin Neill, has said he has met with members in Cookstown who were “up in arms because they are doing nothing wrong”.

“You can’t just say evening economy is bad,” he told the Mail, “you have to actually have specific reasons for specific premises. They are all running legitimate, legal businesses responsibly.”

He said the group held meetings with both the PSNI and council around the “PSNI’s crusade against legitimate and responsible late night entertainment”, and that while police “feel very strongly about it”, he said “they can’t just rock up and issue a blanket ban”.

As for Mid Ulster District Council’s reaction to the situation, he said they were “to be congratulated” for redrafting “their policy to state very clearly that the police will have to put individual objections and evidence in each case”.

“What they are doing is affecting our ability to trade, which is really unfair,” he added. “You can’t just say it’s all bad.

“What concerns me, is that this is the thin end of the wedge and that they are now going to object to all sorts of things.”

A spokesperson for Mid Ulster District Council, which passed new policy on the issue at its last monthly meeting, said: “In light of the new PSNI policy, the council has adapted its own approach.

“We will continue to consult with the police as normal and, where we receive a general objection as a response, we will, where necessary, ask for a detailed comment to assist in making a determination. If no further detailed comment is available, the licence will then be processed by the council.”

The PSNI was also contacted for comment, but did not respond.