HOME Office help is on hand for city leaders who want to lure more people in to Gloucester in the evenings.
While city leaders said the Local Alcohol Action Area will consider only how to improve the city centre, some traders said there is a small but significant problem with drinkers who put off diners.
Gloucester is one of 20 areas across the UK which has been chosen to take part in the government scheme that will help to boost the evening economy in the city.
“We are the only one of the 20 areas that have been chosen which is approaching this scheme purely on the basis of improving the night-time offer in the city,” said Gloucester City Council leader Paul James. “In many cases elsewhere they have a number of alcohol related crime and health issues. That is not the case with us.”
The 12 month programme will give Gloucester City Council access to other areas that have successfully introduced schemes and projects that provide a variety of choices in the evening.
Sebastian Da Silva of Sebz which serves Portuguese and Mediterranean food in Northgate Street, said there is a small number of drinkers who put others off from visiting the city centre.
“How to get more people in to the city centre has been a problem for years,” he said.
“I know it’s difficult to deal with but there are people around who have been drinking - there are not many of them but they might be loud and it puts people off.
“I think a little more policing might help. Also if you want to go somewhere for a drink before a meal, if you go in some pubs there are people who have been in there a long time during the day.
“Also parking is an issue as although it’s only £1 in most council car parks, there is a perception that it’s difficult to park. If it was free-of-charge, that might help too.”
The council has recently introduced grants to help increase the diversity of bars and restaurants in the centre of the city, and police commissioner Martin Surl has appointed Chief Inspector Richard Burge as the first city safe manager.
Jennie Dallimore, city council cabinet member for communities and neighbourhoods, added: “We are keen to broaden the appeal of what we have on offer in the city at night so that we can attract a wider mix of people.
“This project will provide us with a lot of information, help and support to make sure that we approach our objectives in the best possible way.”
Chris Atine, manager of Cafe Rene off Southgate Street welcomed the initiative, which he expects to be grasped with both hands by Gloucester Licensed Victuallers Association.
“As an LVA, our members operate a minimum pricing policy and we are proactive in doing more to encourage people to eat in the city in the evening,” he said. “The LVA is a positive forum and anything we are able to access with the LAAA has got to be positive - it’s also about creating jobs in Gloucester.”