Welcome crackdown on outlets that fall foul of the law

AT long last, there are signs that Camden Council might be prepared to show its claws in dealing with establishments which fail to curb unruly behaviour in and around their premises. In the case in point, it is the Kentucky Fried Chicken fast food establi

AT long last, there are signs that Camden Council might be prepared to show its claws in dealing with establishments which fail to curb unruly behaviour in and around their premises.

In the case in point, it is the Kentucky Fried Chicken fast food establishment in Camden Town which has fallen foul of the authorities (pardon the pun).

Far from being finger lickin' good, the KFC in Camden's High Street has been attracting drunks, dealers and brawling (sometimes bawling) youths.

It stays open until 2am in the morning, so what else can be expected? No-one in their right mind wants to eat deep fried chicken at that hour but it must have its attractions for people trying to recover from a night of excess.


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But this isn't a matter for levity. A woman who works in a pub opposite the KFC describes it as ''the most dangerous place in Camden'' - which is saying something - and it is the police, faced with keeping order on the streets, who are leading the calls for it to close much earlier.

Predictably, the restaurant is now trying to do a deal and save its late opening licence by introducing CCTV and security guards, while providing better training for staff (will that include First Aid?). But these are measures that should have been put in place long before the restaurant earned infamy.

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There are, of course, any number of places in the borough which could be similarly targeted. The Heath and Hampstead Society has been fighting its own war against a milk bar which has even longer opening hours.

While the problems associated with this establishment are by no means as severe, everything is relative.

It takes so much less in the way of disorderly behaviour to disrupt the reasonable degree of peace and quiet to which residents of Heath Street feel entitled in the early hours, than it does to create chaos and mayhem on Camden High Street. Then there is the whole question of extended pub hours and the impact they have on local communities.

Councils generally feel inhibited about rejecting licensing applications from restaurants and licensed premises, particularly from the big players, because of the expense, time and frustration involved in dealing with appeals.

If councils are to crack down where appropriate, they need support and consistency from the magistrates, who have the final say when local authority decisions are disputed.

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