COUNCILLORS have backed police calls to stop new pubs and off-licences opening in central York.

They were told the ban was needed to prevent antisocial behaviour and crime growing in an area covering Back Swinegate, Fossgate, Goodramgate and Parliament Street.

The gambling, licensing and regulatory committee also heard police warnings that without the ban, more supermarket branches with off-licences could open in York.

Insp Mark Henderson told them: “I can tell you now every major supermarket is on the watch constantly for premises closing in York city centre to turn into off-licences”.He also said some drinkers were taking strong alcohol into bars unknown to landlords and getting drunk on it.

The ban, formed by extending the cumulative impact zone (CIZ) covering Micklegate, Davygate and Coney Street, now looks set to become reality when it goes before the full council. Councillors of all parties welcomed the ban.

Coun Janet Looker said: “You do want people to come to York and enjoy themselves. For a significant number of people that does mean having a drink, perhaps having several drinks, but it is right we take note of the fact this then impacts significantly on all sorts of activities that go on, perhaps antisocial behaviour.”

She said there were “quite a few” applications per year for new pubs and off-licences in former estate agents or shops.Insp Henderson said despite landlords’ efforts to search people going into nightclubs, people were still smuggling hard alcohol in and getting drunk on it after buying soft drinks. Landlords found empty vodka bottles down the back of seats when they cleaned up and within 100 yards of every city centre pub there was now an off-licence.

Since 2010, the number of supermarket off licences in the city centre has risen from two to seven, but at least one would probably have been stopped had the extended zone been in force.

The new policy aims to prevent new licensed premises opening or existing ones extending their size or hours. Police say crime is falling in Micklegate but rising in Back Swinegate, Fossgate and Goodramgate areas. The ban is not designed to stop restaurants which want to sell alcohol with meals.