MORE pubs and bars that cause trouble for city residents could be hauled before Southampton’s licensing chiefs.

Opposition councillors will recommend a tougher approach after it was revealed only one bar has had its licence called in for a review in the city in the past three years.

Neighbouring Portsmouth has held 11 reviews over the same period while Winchester City Council has held five.

Licensing chiefs in Southampton said reviews were a last resort and they preferred trying to resolve problems by informal and other formal methods.

Only the Zeb Bar in St Mary’s Road has had its licence reviewed after repeated noise complaints. It is now set to be demolished for flats.

Labour Councillor Warwick Payne, who sits on a powerful council committee holding an inquiry into Southampton’s night time economy, said he was “astounded” by the figure.

“While we’re not looking to put bars and clubs out of business, the council must take a firm stance with the small minority of venues that clearly cause trouble and make life miserable for residents. Our licensing committee can’t be seen as a soft touch. We should be in control of this situation, but at the moment, it’s controlling us, and that isn’t good enough.”

“I’ll certainly be pushing for the licensing committee to take a harder line.”

Lorraine Barter, from Residents’ Action Group in the Polygon, an area blighted by alcohol-fuelled antisocial behaviour, said: “We don’t want informal methods, we want methods that scare people into behaving properly. I’m fed up with the council’s excuses about legal limitations.”

Under the licensing laws, which came into force in late 2005 the council, the police and fire service, as well as businesses and nearby residents, can ask for a licence review to prevent crime and disorder, or public nuisance.

A council spokesman said: “It is not the first stage in resolving problems with particular premises, but a final stage when all other methods have failed, or the problem is so serious that no other method is appropriate.

“It is not for the authority to take a hard line – it must determine each and every application on its merits in accordance with the law.

“A review is only one of many methods available to ensure compliance with the legislation.”