TRADERS quizzed Spalding’s police inspector about problems at the town centre’s takeaways on New Year’s Eve.
Members of the Spalding and District Area Chamber of Commerce said that one outlet – Hot and Spicy in New Road – had gained an extension to its licence to open until 4.30am to cater for hungry New Year partygoers.
Other takeaways then tried to match Hot and Spicy and stayed open beyond their normal 3am closing time.
As a result police stepped in to remove people from the premises and to enforce the correct closing times at the fast food outlets – which, according to chamber president Jason Rooke, sparked complaints of a “heavy-handed” approach.
Traders also asked why one outlet was allowed to gain an extension on its own.
Insp Paul Timmins said: “Our view is that we should have a fair playing field for everybody. You would have to ask the licensing authority why one got a longer licence than the rest.
“We have resources for the times when places are open until. If we suddenly get places open half an hour to an hour after they should be closed then that’s going to have a cost implication for us and for the taxpayer because ultimately more police will be required for longer.
“The majority of problems that we have in terms of violent crime in the town centre tends to be outside in the street when people are waiting for their food.
“That’s why we will come down fairly hard on the closing times.”
Insp Timmins said if he receives any complaints about the actions of his officers he will look into those.
Loaded nightclub owner Matt Clark asked how any premises could get a licence for 4.30am without the need for properly trained door staff.
Insp Timmins said it would be best practice for anyone seeking to stay open that late to have appropriate staff, as with pubs and clubs.