Artful Codger, by Roger May, July 3, 2015

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The saddest aspect of the recent stories about late night rowdiness in Lynn town centre, and the resultant damage and distress suffered by residents in the nearby streets, has been the lack of response or positive action by the authorities.

There seems a world-weary attitude that this kind of behaviour is now the norm in so many town and city centres up and down the land and it is just bad luck if you happen to live in the danger zone.

Of course there will be the usual criticism of the Blair Government and their loony decision to relax the country’s licensing laws and develop a more continental approach to late night drinking, but now this has been seen to be a dismal failure, there has hardly been a rush by politicians of either the left or the right to repeal those laws.

Given the craven manner in which most modern politicians fawn to what they 
perceive as populist trends, there is little hope of a return to, dear I say it, a more sober approach to the problem.

What cannot be denied is that the relaxed drinking laws have created a problem that is not going to go away – if 
anything it is likely to get worse.

Therefore, surely it is appropriate that those who profit from this late night (or more often early hours) excess, should contribute to measures to ease the problem.

Perhaps the borough councils up and down the land can be given the power to implement a levy on the drinking establishments and takeaway businesses that operate in town and city centres between the hours of midnight and 4am, and the money raised be used to pay for a team of town centre stewards.

These stewards would patrol the immediate town centre areas, as well as the main roads leading into the centre, and have the powers to disperse groups causing a nuisance and also to detain more determined trouble-makers until the police arrived.

Residents of the immediate town centre area could be issued with the mobile telephone numbers of steward team leaders so that a rapid response could be made when trouble flared. This way, minor nuisances could be nipped in the bud before they got out of hand.

Even for a town the size of Lynn, you would need a large team of stewards to cover the town centre and environs adequately, so, yes, this scheme would cost a considerable amount of money.

So it might put the brakes on the late night drinking scene, as many traders may perhaps consider it is not worth their time to open in the early hours if they are not making a healthy profit.

Equally, there might be a lot of people who don’t think that is such a bad thing – especially the long-suffering souls living in the streets plagued by drunken loud-mouth behaviour and much worse every weekend.