Cheltenham's clubs and bars say 'no' to legal highs

At a recent meeting of Cheltenham’s Night Safe (pubwatch) group, the trade unanimously voted in favour of banning all forms of legal highs in Cheltenham’s night-time economy.

The decision follows concerns about a few late night venues that recently began offering nitrous oxide, more commonly known as laughing gas, to customers at their venues.

At the Night Safe meeting on Tuesday (02/02/16) the use of nitrous oxide, and legal highs generally, was discussed and debated at length by all the late night operators. The discussion concluded with a vote and the group voted unanimously to ban the use of legal highs in the town’s bars, clubs and other late night venues.

At the meeting members expressed concern over the use and enforceability of the ban in venues not part of Night Safe. In response, officers from the council and the police have given a commitment to deal with these venues individually to enforce the ban.

Jimmy Elias, chair of Night Safe and operations director of a number of local clubs, said: “I believe the right decision has been made by the Night Safe members, just because it is a legal high, this does not mean it is good for you.”

Licensed premises have a statutory obligation to promote the licensing objectives. Amongst these is an objective to promote public safety at their venues. Venues found to operate in such a manner that could adversely affect public safety in their venues could be subject to a review of their licence and face their licences being revoked by the council.

Councillor Andrew McKinlay, cabinet member for development and safety, said: “It is important for the trade to lead on issues that affect them and I am pleased that they have raised the issue through the right channels and made a collective decision to ensure Cheltenham remains a safe night out.

“This sends a clear message that Cheltenham’s late night operators are responsible and will not be complacent about their customers’ safety and wellbeing when visiting the town.”

Cheltenham Inspector Tim Waterhouse said: “Cheltenham police support and applaud the stance taken by the Night Safe group. It shows how strong the group can be in trying to make Cheltenham as safe a place to socialise as possible. Well done to the group.’’