‘Close town at midnight to stop drunken brawls’

A town’s late-night economy should be cut short to crack down on drunken revellers launching into rowdy and antisocial behaviour.

That’s the view of Cllr Stuart Tranter, who believes that while Rochester is a “leisure focus” there should be a cut-off point at about midnight.

Casino Rooms in Rochester High Street stays open until 3am

He feels that this is only fair to the many people who live in the High Street and surrounding area who, at times, struggle to get to sleep.

Cllr Tranter (Con), who represents Rochester West on Medway Council, said: “We all accept that Rochester is a place where people like to drink, go to a restaurant, dance and meet friends.

“But there has to be a level of reasonableness.

“It’s not acceptable to have fights, windows and glasses being smashed and people defecating and urinating in the street at 2 in the morning.

“Rochester is a heavily residential area and perhaps people forget that people live there.

Cllr Stuart Tranter. Picture: Medway Council

“Yes, as they live in the High Street they should expect some noise and loud behaviour. If you want peace and quiet you go and live in the countryside.

“But that’s not to say they should tolerate anything. Everyone’s entitled to a night’s sleep at some point.

“The longer people have to drink, the more drunk they get.”

He feels that venues that stay open after midnight are better suited to out-of-town areas.

His comments have puzzled some licensees in the High Street who do not believe closing down the town at midnight is the answer.

“It might be an idea to have more police around when the club closes.”

Sandra Judge, who runs the Eagle Tavern, said: “If everywhere closed at 12 there would be a mass exodus and that would be asking for trouble.

“If they can’t go on to places like the Casino, they will find somewhere else, and that could mean driving people away from Rochester, which we obviously don’t want.”

Ms Judge, who has been at the pub for 15 years, said: “We have gone back to being a pub and stopped our live music.

“We are trying to be somewhere different, somewhere where people can enjoy a quiet drink, and socialise.

“Our clientele are not the type to go on to the Casino or elsewhere.

The Golden Lion Wetherspoon in Rochester High Street stays open until 1am at weekends. Picture: Steve Crispe

“We can close at 1am, but we choose to close at 12.

“It might be an idea to have more police around when the club closes.”

Another landlord, who did not want to be named, added: “I don’t know what the answer is.

“We don’t serve anyone who is drunk.

“We have last orders at 10.50, call time at 11 and try to get everyone out by 11.30 and we don’t get any trouble.”

The Eagle Tavern in Rochester High Street

Fellow ward councillor Alex Paterson (Lab) said: “Rochester is a living community, not a museum.

“Those operating licensed premises here must do so in an appropriate, considerate way and be held accountable when they fall short of those standards.

“But I am wary of politicians who seek to impose their own narrow view of fun on others.

“Our High Street should be for everyone – from those who want to visit shops, restaurants and heritage attractions by day to those who prefer a night out which lasts into the wee small hours.

“Most parts of Continental Europe and many British cities have night economies which extend far later than Rochester’s without descending into the sort of violent and antisocial behaviour often witnessed here.

Cllr Alex Paterson

“Instead of calling for the use of blunt instruments, such as scrapping all late licenses and stifling our cultural life, we need to focus on how we change that behaviour to make Rochester a safe place for everyone to enjoy – all of the time.”

Currently the Casino Rooms, in Blue Boar Lane, which bills itself as Kent’s largest nightclub, closes at the latest at 3am.

The City Wall Wine Bar in the High Street shuts at 2am at weekends.

Business News Crime Kent Medway Tourism & Hospitality Nicola Jordan


popular today