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Police and council 'on same page' over town centre policing, says chief inspector
Watford’s top police officer has claimed there is no split between police and the council over a potential night time booze ban in the town centre.
Chief Inspector Nick Caveney said he was "on the same page" as elected Mayor Dorothy Thornhill over new licensing powers that will come into force later this year.
The comments followed Watford’s Labour party urging the Liberal Democrat mayor to back an early morning alcohol restriction order (EMRO), which would restrict town centre booze sales after a designated time.
Hertfordshire Constabulary said last month it was looking at the measure, which comes into force as part of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011.
However Mayor Thornhill has expressed caution over bringing in an EMRO in Watford, saying she wants to look at the impact of such a measure and will not be rushed into a decision.
The political row over Watford’s nightlife has heated up in the last few weeks after Liberal Democrat councillor Chris Leslie resigned his seat in central Watford, triggering a by-election.
This week Avril Haley, Labour candidate for the vacant seat, launched a trenchant attack on the Liberal Democrat’s track record on the town centre.
She said: "After a decade of Dorothy and the Lib Dems, they have refused to fund police community support officers, cut police numbers, failed to get a grip on the top of the town and now they are denying the police the tools to do the job.
"The Lib Dems have run the town hall for 10 years. They should listen to the police, who know what they’re talking about. After all, while the Lib Dems are safely tucked up in bed, our brave bobbies are out there doing a tough job."
Yesterday Chief Inspector Nick Caveney said there was no split between him and the mayor and that the EMRO was one of a number of measures the police and the council were looking at for the town centre.
He said any new initiatives would only come into effect once pub and club owners, as well as the public, had been consulted.
He said: "It is by no means the only thing on the agenda. We are in the same place on it as the council and indeed Dorothy. There is no massive split. We are on the same page."
The public order situation in the town centre has become one of the central issues on the political battle over the vacant town hall seat.
Last month Watford was given a purple flag award for the management of the night time economy. Then earlier this month Area nightclub, the second biggest venue in Watford, was forced to close for two months and rebrand after the police applied to have it stripped of its licence over management failings.
This week, Mayor Dorothy Thornhill responded to Labour’s attack saying there was no split between herself and the police on the town centre.
She said: "I will always back the police, and between us we will come to the right decision about the right tool to be used."