A CRACKDOWN on new pubs and clubs opening in Worcester is on the verge of being extended - in a bid to reduce anti-social behaviour.

Worcester City Council and West Mercia Police are teaming up to focus on a raft of central streets which they want to see protected from any extra late-night venues.

Under the agreement 10 extra streets will be earmarked for special protection, meaning an investor is unlikely to get council permission for a pub or club to open up there.

It includes Queen Street, Angel Row, Crown passage, Trinity Passage, The Avenue, St Swithins Street, Mealcheapen Street, Reindeer Court, Church Street and Bank Street.

The move was backed by the city council's licensing committee on Wednesday night despite bad-tempered clashes with rival politicians over which streets to include.

The police wanted five streets - Friar Street, Quay Street, City Walls Road, Bridge Street and Deansway - to be kept off the list on the grounds they had no crime concerns there any more, but the committee disagreed.

Under the new list, which is going to full council for a vote before it can come into use, in each street there will be a presumption of "refusal" for any new alcohol venues unless a bidder can prove it will not increase crime.

Councillor Roger Knight said: "I'm strongly in favour of making additions to this policy but I wouldn't want it weakened.

"The decisions we make over new venues are strongly influenced by it - the presumption of refusal is a very effective tool in policing the city centre."

Councillor Paul Denham agreed, saying there was "no logical reason" to leave the streets off.

But Councillor Richard Udall said: "This is the second or third time in recent years we've added streets to this list and that makes me nervous, because we are intervening in a free market.

"We are potentially preventing establishments from opening."

During the debate he criticised Tory Councillor Allah Ditta, saying the committee chairman "doesn't have a view" despite his ward covering the city centre.

Cllr Knight said it would be "irresponsible and juvenile" to take streets off the final list, but Labour Councillor Jo Hodges countered by saying it was "logical" to keep crimes with low crime rates off it.

During a vote the committee agreed to add all 10 new streets to the list and not remove any, taking it to 32 in total.

The updated list, known as the 'cumulative impact policy', is expected to come into force from July subject to full council approval.