LICENSEES who sell alcohol to already-drunk customers could be hauled before York's city leaders, under new plans.

City council bosses want to take a tougher stand against those who contribute to make trouble and antisocial behaviour on a night time.

They are to write to all licensed premises, reminding managers and owners of their responsibilities and will seek formal review hearings of the licences of trouble-spots.

The move has been cautiously welcomed by some pub landlords, but they said supermarkets were as big a problems as bars and pubs, and called for equal treatment.

City of York Council leader James Alexander told The Press earlier this month that he was keen for the council to take "more robust action against licensees who are selling alcohol to people they "know are intoxicated", and he said the council planned to call some licences in for review where venues "are not taking their responsibilities seriously".

Cllr Barbara Boyce, council chairman of gambling and licensing, has now backed those calls.

She said: "We need to do all we can within the terms of the legislation to ensure that licence holders stick to the terms of their licences and sell alcohol responsibly. It is also essential that people out enjoying themselves take responsibility for themselves and their friends and make sure they know where they are and what they are doing at the end of the evening.

"Ultimately I would like to see a city where evening entertainment is less reliant on heavy drinking and is known for more diverse entertainment that does not necessarily involve alcohol all the time."

Jason Hawkins, who runs the Three Tuns pub in Coppergate, said: "The pub trade is often vilified because its assumed that if a person is drunk its our fault for serving them when in fact many of these drunks have been consuming alcohol purchased from supermarkets and off licenses or have 'pre loaded' by consuming alcohol prior to going into pubs or nightclubs.

"No one in the pub trade wants to see anyone come to harm from having a night out so any initiative that raises awareness of the results of excessive alcohol consumption will have the support of responsible licensees but perhaps these initiatives will be evenly applied to all licensed premises and not just the pubs."

He said it was only sometimes easy to spot drunk customers straight away, and said some people bought drinks on behalf of drunker friends.

Paul Marshall, landlord of the Rook and Gaskill in Lawrence Street, said: “The majority of people I know in this area don’t get drunk in pubs; I think it’s more to do with pre-loading before they come out.

“Most licensees are pretty on the ball when it comes to watching out for people who are drunk. It’s something we get from time to time from licensing.”

Cllr Tracey Simpson-Laing, deputy council leader, said some shops and pubs or bars were serving intoxicated customers and said: "This has to stop." She said some staff were unaware of their responsibilities and said letters would remind licence-holders of their obligations under their licences not to serve people who have had too much to drink, urging them to invest in staff training, and saying they can contribute positively to the city.