LANDLORDS and nightclub bosses are being called to crisis talks to try to stop weekend stag and hen parties turning the centre of York into a "no go area".

Police officers and City of York Council say antisocial behaviour by visitors has become a major issue. In a joint letter to city-centre licence-holders, they say: "York is no longer viewed as a safe, family-friendly city on a Saturday."

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Licensees from pubs, bars, nightclubs and off-licences have been called to a meeting at York Racecourse on Tuesday, to try to thrash out potential ways of tackling the problem.

Some landlords have told The Press police should do more to clamp down on rowdiness on the streets and say alcohol should be banned on more trains into York, to prevent so many people arriving in the city already drunk.

Inspector Andy Godfrey, from North Yorkshire Police, said previous talks had involved the big organisations in the city and said it was time to see what licensees had to say. He hopes an action-plan can be drawn up by the end of the summer.

The letter is signed by the city council's licensing manager Lesley Cook, Insp Godfrey and Sergeant Matthew France from North Yorkshire Police, and Sergeant Mary-Anne Snowden from British Transport Police.

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It says: "As you will be aware York city-centre is a very popular destination for stag and hen parties on a weekend, along with day visitors from the North East and South Yorkshire, who travel to York by train. The antisocial behaviour caused by these visitors has become a major issue."

Some landlords said the letter was "regionalist" in singling out the North East and South Yorkshire, but others welcomed the action. Several are already bracing themselves for huge crowds and potential mayhem on July 11, when the John Smith's Cup meeting at York Racecourse coincides with the York City v Middlesbrough pre-season friendly.

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Christian Garvey, designated premises supervisor at The Falcon Tap in Micklegate, said he would no longer bring his three-year-old son into the city-centre at weekends, because of the unruly groups.

He said: "Big groups are ruining it for everyone else, there are no two ways about it. The letter is a bit regionalist but you can't skip around the fact that's where people are coming from."

He said his pub turned away large groups but said: "It's hard to do that and watch the money walk past your window."

Kevin Jones, manager at Brigantes in Micklegate, said: "There is not enough of a police presence on the street to stop people acting badly. People feel they can jump on a train, drink what they want and be intimidating."

Jason Hawkins, who runs The Three Tuns in Coppergate, Blue Boar in Castlegate and Corner Pin in Tanner Row, said most stag and hen parties were well behaved but some elements would always spoil things for others.

He said: "There are many other cities in the country that are seen as stag and hen destinations and seem to manage the balance between tourism and a vibrant social scene. I believe that its possible to do the same here as long as licensees, police and the council work together and don't go down the blame game route."

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York is widely promoted online as a destination for stag and hen parties, but weekend scenes often prompt concern on social media among others.

Tourist Gavin Simpson, from Knebworth in Hertfordshire, visited with his wife on May 30, his first trip to York.

He said: "We thought it was absolutely beautiful. We were amazed though at how many stag and hen parties there were and how early they started. It did create a slightly threatening vibe although we saw nothing. I was pleased I was going to the theatre that evening to see Stewart Lee rather than going into town." He said he would not be deterred from revisiting York.

Kate McMullen, head of marketing at the tourism body Make It York, said the city's lively bar and nightlife scene was part of its varied appeal, and was responsibly by the majority, but said: "We are not supportive of proactively encouraging groups to the city who visit only to drink.

"We welcome initiatives that ensure a pleasant and safe city centre environment for all and it is crucially important we work together to make York a vibrant, safe and enjoyable place to live and visit."

Steve Waddington, the city council's assistant director of community safety, said concerns related to a minority of city-centre visitors and said the council was working with other organisations including the police and train companies to address the issue.

He said alcohol-related crime had fallen in York.

City leaders have been trying for several years to ease the problem, and a survey of hoteliers in 2014 found some had experienced guests returning to their hotels because of the atmosphere in the city-centre.

In 2012, The Press reported the case of Jayne Mason, who moved her Fancy Dance shop to smaller premises across the road in Micklegate and stopped selling fancy dress outfits, after one of her female employees was picked up and carried around the shop by a stag party that then stole a mannequin.

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