Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Changing Face of Local Leisure

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Changing Face of Local Leisure

Article excerpt

WELCOME to the 2013 Leisure Supplement. 2012 was another challenging year in the sector and 2013 looks to bring further challenges just over the horizon. Last year, despite much debate, there was no change on the Beer Duty Escalator. Discussions opened in Parliament regarding minimum pricing and Newcastle City Council took a leading stance by granting two new licences, with minimum pricing conditions at PS3.50 for a bottle of beer or a small glass of wine.

In the forthcoming year, it looks like there will be further issues to address for the sector as Newcastle City Council completes its Licensing Policy Review.

The likelihood of a Late Night Levy being introduced will add to the operating costs of bar owners and the potential spectre of draconian measures such as Early Morning Restriction Orders (EMROs) which may still lurk in the background, if the policy changes don't achieve the aims of the council.

But, will these changes really alter the face of local leisure? Or, is it more likely to be customer demand and operator intentions that will have a greater effect? In reality, it is probably an element of both, with the council working with the operators most likely to change the local leisure market.

Over the last few years we've seen some circuits within the town wane, (most notably the Quayside), others strengthen further (the 'Diamond Strip') and new evening hotspots arise, as has happened on Grey Street with the cluster of new premium bars and restaurants that have opened, with more proposed.

Circuits will always change as tastes evolve and perhaps it will only need a small move to revitalise the Quayside's fortunes - investment in Livello and Red House may well be the catalyst.

What seems clear, however, is that Newcastle can only comfortably sustain three leisure circuits at any one time.

At present, it appears to be The Diamond Strip, Bigg Market and The Gate, but how long until this changes? Perhaps, when the market moves again, the circuit that loses out could do something completely different with the backing of the council, focusing on a different sector of the leisure economy. …

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