Watford mayor vows to tackle town centre's 'Ibiza on acid' reputation

Watford Observer: Watford Mayor Dorothy Thornhill. Watford Mayor Dorothy Thornhill.

Watford Mayor Dorothy Thornhill has vowed to tackle the town’s embarrassing reputation of being like "Ibiza on acid" by encouraging local bars, pubs and clubs to adopt a series of new measures.

On Monday afternoon, Watford venue owners, police and members of Watford Community Safety Partnership gathered together at the Watford Colosseum for a Watford Night Time Economy Summit.

Highlighting the fact the meeting and its agenda was not against the town’s night time economy, Mayor Thornhill outlined a need to change the culture and reputation of the town centre.

The Liberal Democrat representative said: "In terms of the evening and night, our town centre is slightly out of kilter.

"I understand very much what the night time economy contributes to the town, but I must say that we’re searching for something that doesn’t come alive at 11pm, that doesn’t just involve people under 25.

"For us it’s about balance and the whole community and the greater benefit.

"Venue owners have challenges in their own industry, everybody is concerned about jobs and profits. You only need to look down the high street and at the empty units.

"Part of my role is to ensure Watford thrives and doesn’t decline and die.

"It’s not about being anti-night time economy, but it is clearly anti things staying the way they are. Things have got to change."

Owners were handed a two-page document with a list of 26 model conditions to be considered for use in Watford town centre venues.

The list included notifying police 14 days before a significant event is held at a premises, a ban on glass bottles and containers, no beverages in smoking areas, introduction of electronic identification systems, increased searches, installation of CCTV, and hourly toilet checks for drugs.

Despite Chief Inspector Nick Caveney revealing that Watford’s violent crime has increased, with almost half occurring in The Parade and High Street, Mayor Thornhill said the town centre was "not terrible".

She said: "When we sit back and look at reality we’re saying we want things to be better and we want the level of crime in the town to decline further.

"It’s as if we culturally accept if you have a night time economy that means people will kick nine bells out of each other and go home via Shady Lane or A&E.

"It’s damaging our communities, it’s expensive in terms of policing costs and in terms of our reputation.

"Being described in the past as 'Ibiza on acid' was not something I was particularly proud of.

"We’re investing significantly in the town, all the plans are coming to fruition and we don’t want that ruined by the image of the top of town, which is an embarrassment."

At the end of the meeting, venue owners were given the opportunity to voice their opinions on points raised, but nothing was said.

When Mayor Thornhill was asked whether she believed the muted response showed the plans were well-received, she said she thought owners needed time to absorb the points raised.

As for whether the partnership would be targeting businesses offering cheap drinks and student nights, she said: "They might get a few more quid over the till, but what damage are they doing to the reputation of the town?

"I believe it’s better for business if their business plan is less about young people, more about getting people in after work, early evening, before going to the Colosseum, before theatre or football.

"We'll be having this conversation with venues, they’re putting short terms pounds in the till instead of long term changes to their establishment and their culture.

"I’d like office workers from Clarendon Road to want to walk up into town, have a nice bottle wine with their mains after work, like people do in London.

"You want mums with their children to feel a pub is a place where they can have a cup of tea and coffee, not a den of vice for heavy drinking.

"We want businesses to appreciate what they do that isn’t helping us, rather than us being prescriptive. But if there are complaints about their licence, we’ll look to revoke it."

Comments (20)

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4:51pm Wed 5 Dec 12

mister says...

build a bridge........
build a bridge........ mister
  • Score: 0

4:56pm Wed 5 Dec 12

TRT says...

"where they can have a cup of tea and coffee"

That's called a café, dear.
"where they can have a cup of tea and coffee" That's called a café, dear. TRT
  • Score: 0

5:15pm Wed 5 Dec 12

Hooligan1 says...

Lovely photo.
Lovely photo. Hooligan1
  • Score: 0

5:31pm Wed 5 Dec 12

dytham says...

business if "there" business plan

"I’d like office workers from Clarendon Road to want to walk up into town, have a nice bottle wine with their "mains" after work.

#Can'tGetTheStaff
business if "there" business plan "I’d like office workers from Clarendon Road to want to walk up into town, have a nice bottle wine with their "mains" after work. #Can'tGetTheStaff dytham
  • Score: 0

5:38pm Wed 5 Dec 12

TRT says...

Surely "mains" is street slang for "main men"; a bit like hanging with the homeys.
Surely "mains" is street slang for "main men"; a bit like hanging with the homeys. TRT
  • Score: 0

5:42pm Wed 5 Dec 12

LSC says...

But we have a Purple Flag! That PROVES everything is ok. So what is the fuss about?
But we have a Purple Flag! That PROVES everything is ok. So what is the fuss about? LSC
  • Score: 0

5:49pm Wed 5 Dec 12

polyphant says...

Acid is a psychedelic (LSD), I don't think Watford has that vibe.

Perhaps steroids or cocaine would be a better assumption?

Ibiza is warm and people are very friendly, it is not a rough or dangerous place.

Perhaps Rhyl would be a better example?

Rhyl on Steroids.
Acid is a psychedelic (LSD), I don't think Watford has that vibe. Perhaps steroids or cocaine would be a better assumption? Ibiza is warm and people are very friendly, it is not a rough or dangerous place. Perhaps Rhyl would be a better example? Rhyl on Steroids. polyphant
  • Score: 0

8:26pm Wed 5 Dec 12

Retlas says...

"Part of my role is to ensure Watford thrives and doesn’t decline and die.

Watford, unfortunately, ceased to thrive about 30 years ago and has since been declining and dying from then on.

I was born and brought up in Watford and I hate to say it but it holds no attraction any longer as it is now a toilet.
"Part of my role is to ensure Watford thrives and doesn’t decline and die. Watford, unfortunately, ceased to thrive about 30 years ago and has since been declining and dying from then on. I was born and brought up in Watford and I hate to say it but it holds no attraction any longer as it is now a toilet. Retlas
  • Score: 0

9:06pm Wed 5 Dec 12

Mike Ribble says...

Everyone has their own opinion of the town and Retlas is not alone in his rather negative view. Recently I met two elderly men at a bus stop bitterly bemoaning the town's decline but for them it started not 30 years ago but 60!
I asked them if they could think of anything at all about the town today that was positive. After giving it some thought they agreed that 'at least it's not Stevenage'.
Everyone has their own opinion of the town and Retlas is not alone in his rather negative view. Recently I met two elderly men at a bus stop bitterly bemoaning the town's decline but for them it started not 30 years ago but 60! I asked them if they could think of anything at all about the town today that was positive. After giving it some thought they agreed that 'at least it's not Stevenage'. Mike Ribble
  • Score: 0

10:25pm Wed 5 Dec 12

Reg Edit says...

LSC wrote:
But we have a Purple Flag! That PROVES everything is ok. So what is the fuss about?
Soon we'll have a purple flag AND a bridge. How could life get any better?

Well done Dotty, you have changed the town for the better immeasurably with just those two masterstrokes.

(In your dreams)
[quote][p][bold]LSC[/bold] wrote: But we have a Purple Flag! That PROVES everything is ok. So what is the fuss about?[/p][/quote]Soon we'll have a purple flag AND a bridge. How could life get any better? Well done Dotty, you have changed the town for the better immeasurably with just those two masterstrokes. (In your dreams) Reg Edit
  • Score: 0

10:26pm Wed 5 Dec 12

Reg Edit says...

Mike Ribble wrote:
Everyone has their own opinion of the town and Retlas is not alone in his rather negative view. Recently I met two elderly men at a bus stop bitterly bemoaning the town's decline but for them it started not 30 years ago but 60!
I asked them if they could think of anything at all about the town today that was positive. After giving it some thought they agreed that 'at least it's not Stevenage'.
Let's send Dotty over to save Stevenage!

Or has it been concreted over already?
[quote][p][bold]Mike Ribble[/bold] wrote: Everyone has their own opinion of the town and Retlas is not alone in his rather negative view. Recently I met two elderly men at a bus stop bitterly bemoaning the town's decline but for them it started not 30 years ago but 60! I asked them if they could think of anything at all about the town today that was positive. After giving it some thought they agreed that 'at least it's not Stevenage'.[/p][/quote]Let's send Dotty over to save Stevenage! Or has it been concreted over already? Reg Edit
  • Score: 0

7:45am Thu 6 Dec 12

nathanl says...

Great thoughts and great initiative from the Mayor. I;d love Watford to have a great reputation for a great place to live and a great place to go out, not just a place for a drunk night out where you take your safety into your own hands.
Great thoughts and great initiative from the Mayor. I;d love Watford to have a great reputation for a great place to live and a great place to go out, not just a place for a drunk night out where you take your safety into your own hands. nathanl
  • Score: 0

8:54am Thu 6 Dec 12

johnhornet says...

The other problem with the centre in terms of attracting people is that we have no decent restaurants. Thi is the key to attracting over 25's. If the best we can do is L'Artista where the food is OK but overcrammed and like eating in a factory we really have a problem.
The other problem with the centre in terms of attracting people is that we have no decent restaurants. Thi is the key to attracting over 25's. If the best we can do is L'Artista where the food is OK but overcrammed and like eating in a factory we really have a problem. johnhornet
  • Score: 0

12:48pm Thu 6 Dec 12

The Not-so-enlightened one says...

"You want mums with their children to feel a pub is a place where they can have a cup of tea and coffee, not a den of vice for heavy drinking."

Pubs have NEVER been somewhere to have tea and coffee with children. Until fairly recently, children were specifically excluded from pubs. I humbly suggest that the "dens of vice for heavy drinking" scenario (generally) occurs somewhat later in the day than when mothers with young children will be in the town. If not, then the parents need to look at their own child-care behaviour.
(Light blue touch paper and retire to a safe distance)
"You want mums with their children to feel a pub is a place where they can have a cup of tea and coffee, not a den of vice for heavy drinking." Pubs have NEVER been somewhere to have tea and coffee with children. Until fairly recently, children were specifically excluded from pubs. I humbly suggest that the "dens of vice for heavy drinking" scenario (generally) occurs somewhat later in the day than when mothers with young children will be in the town. If not, then the parents need to look at their own child-care behaviour. (Light blue touch paper and retire to a safe distance) The Not-so-enlightened one
  • Score: 0

3:21pm Thu 6 Dec 12

francowatford says...

I Accidentally purchased two adults tickets in different rows if you are interested in buying them from me. I actually wanted an adult and a child next to eachother! lol Booking tickets is not my strong asset, that's the gf's job. Let me know if interested. This is alos for anyone else that is interested in buying two tickets.”
I Accidentally purchased two adults tickets in different rows if you are interested in buying them from me. I actually wanted an adult and a child next to eachother! lol Booking tickets is not my strong asset, that's the gf's job. Let me know if interested. This is alos for anyone else that is interested in buying two tickets.” francowatford
  • Score: 0

8:34pm Thu 6 Dec 12

HertsPeter says...

I am ashamed of our town - the high street is an utter disgrace. This has not happened overnight. She's been Queen of Watford for almost ten years now - isn't she at least part of the reason why our town has slithered into the cesspit??
I am ashamed of our town - the high street is an utter disgrace. This has not happened overnight. She's been Queen of Watford for almost ten years now - isn't she at least part of the reason why our town has slithered into the cesspit?? HertsPeter
  • Score: 0

9:23pm Thu 6 Dec 12

pancake39 says...

It doesn't matter how you dress the town up or rebadge it only people can change and make a difference. The behaviour of most people out on a night out is disgraceful and the aim always seems to be let's see how drunk we can get, how many fights we can get into and how loud and obnoxious we can be. Watford will always be a commuter town where people just go back to their homes and lets face it there are plenty of houses being built, nothing else for those people to do.
It doesn't matter how you dress the town up or rebadge it only people can change and make a difference. The behaviour of most people out on a night out is disgraceful and the aim always seems to be let's see how drunk we can get, how many fights we can get into and how loud and obnoxious we can be. Watford will always be a commuter town where people just go back to their homes and lets face it there are plenty of houses being built, nothing else for those people to do. pancake39
  • Score: 0

11:01pm Thu 6 Dec 12

dytham says...

francowatford wrote:
I Accidentally purchased two adults tickets in different rows if you are interested in buying them from me. I actually wanted an adult and a child next to eachother! lol Booking tickets is not my strong asset, that's the gf's job. Let me know if interested. This is alos for anyone else that is interested in buying two tickets.”
Think your gf might also be better at placing ads for surplus tickets. She might also have mentioned tickets for what and when !
[quote][p][bold]francowatford[/bold] wrote: I Accidentally purchased two adults tickets in different rows if you are interested in buying them from me. I actually wanted an adult and a child next to eachother! lol Booking tickets is not my strong asset, that's the gf's job. Let me know if interested. This is alos for anyone else that is interested in buying two tickets.”[/p][/quote]Think your gf might also be better at placing ads for surplus tickets. She might also have mentioned tickets for what and when ! dytham
  • Score: 0

11:50pm Thu 6 Dec 12

TRT says...

I think you only really notice the loud and naughty ones. There are many quiet and well behaved ones that slip away silently into the night. But those few arseholes really do spoil it. Really. Disgraceful behaviour.
I think you only really notice the loud and naughty ones. There are many quiet and well behaved ones that slip away silently into the night. But those few arseholes really do spoil it. Really. Disgraceful behaviour. TRT
  • Score: 0

5:39pm Fri 7 Dec 12

polyphant says...

this is what acid is like.... http://www.youtube.c
om/watch?v=X5Izm1LQf
w4

Watford could probably do with a bit of psychedelia
this is what acid is like.... http://www.youtube.c om/watch?v=X5Izm1LQf w4 Watford could probably do with a bit of psychedelia polyphant
  • Score: 0

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