Whalley villagers blast late-night noise, filth, intimidation and crime in licensed venues survey
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The report for Ribble Valley Borough Council’s licensing committee features numerous anonymous residents’ complaints about noise from customers, discos, live bands and taxis; drunkenness, fighting, drugs, vomit, faeces, urine, condoms and litter on pavements and gardens, and damage to cars and homes.
Earlier this year the borough council launched a consultation process about Whalley’s booming pub, bar and restaurant scene. The survey could now be used as evidence towards a formal Whalley Cumulative Impact Assessment, which could influence and support future licensing decisions and work.
The licensing committee is being asked to look at issues such as venue closing times, bar trends, capacities and concentrations of drinkers leaving venues at different times.
The report states there are currently 24 licensed pubs, bars, clubs, tea rooms, cafés and restaurants in Whalley and Painter Wood - 21 are in the centre of Whalley.
Through public consultation, the borough council received 60 replies, of which 51 were from residents. The majority of residents who responded said they would support the licensing committee putting restrictions on the number of new licensed premises and on opening hours. Eighty per cent felt there were too many licensed premises open at night.
Whalley has been the focus of concerns over crime and disorder a number of times recently. One example was an alleged assault outside the Co-op in the early hours Saturday, October 16th. Earlier this summer, CCTV was installed at Whalley Abbey and councillors, police and Lancashire’s deputy police and crime commissioner held talks about disorder and vandalism in the village.
Conservative Coun. Ged Mirfin has been among the borough councillors raising concerns. He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that he intends to speak again about residents’ feedback at the licensing commitee’s meeting on November 2nd.
In the new survey, some Whalley residents claim they have been warning of licensed premises and night time problems for years. Some say there has been disorder long before covid-safety arrangements and customer habits brought more outdoor socialising, hospitality and drinking.
The licensing survey does not contain feedback or statements from operators of licensed premises in Whalley, who may dispute the residents’ statements or versions of events.
However, a number of residents who did respond said they also operate business in the village. Two other businesses responded, owned by people who live elsewhere.
In the new report, one resident statement reads: “Some of the licensed premises on King Street and Queen Street are attracting a number of unsavoury characters to the village. I have witnessed increased drug use and drug dealing in car parks and pubs. My wife has been verbally abused on two recent occasions. When we moved to Whalley nine years ago, there were just four pubs and two licensed restaurants on King Street, plus Rendezvous on Accrington Road. Now, there are 12 drinking establishments on King Street alone.
“There used to be a regular community police patrol around the village and a police car at the bus terminus. Unfortunately, I very rarely see a police presence now which I’m sure must be contributing to the proliferation of unsociable behaviour in a village which I once considered to be one of the top ten places to live in England.”
Another resident states: “I am disgusted at the state of the pavements in Whalley, especially along King Street and Accrington Road. They are so stained with spilt alcohol, urine and vomit (the smell is unmistakeable) that I feel sick walking along them. It puts me off visiting Whalley to spend my money.
“I blame this on the council’s continued support of Whalley’s night time economy above the needs of residents and day visitors. Whalley was once a nice village. Now it is jam-packed with houses, traffic and night club/wine bar filth.”
In another statement, a resident writes: “Vehicle damage, glasses, bottles, underwear, drug paraphernalia, faeces, vomit, urine. Being kept awake until 5am. ”
Meanwhile another resident blames crowds outside Benny’s Bar & Cafe on Accrington Road, alleging: “After the pub’s close, drinkers congregate at Benny’s to continue socialising into the early hours. This in itself is not an issue but indoor staff allow adolescent drinkers to gather in loud groups outside, which is the cause of much of the disturbance.”
Other villagers claim loud music, noise or customers arriving and leaving Rio’s club or the Salvage Works are problems. One states: “The Salvage Works is a real concern. They have live bands at midnight and don’t have the doors closed. That coupled with people drinking outside contributes to excessive noise.”
Some respondents believe that some venues are well-run and very good, including Whalley Wine Bar, The Swan and The Dog. While, some say the dominance of Whalley’s night-time economy is affecting property rents and discouraging day time businesses such as shops.
One states: “This is pushing-up rents and stopping real shops from opening. The village needs fresh fruit and vegetables, plastic-free recycling shops, a charity shop, a second-hand shop or a repair cafe. It is now very intimidating. We now avoid the centre as much as possible where once it was a place to meet other locals and stop for a chat.”