Trade urges rethink over Blackpool council's EMRO plans

By Ellie Bothwell

- Last updated on GMT

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BISL estimates that stag and hen parties alone bring in approximately £250,000 to Blackpool weekly
BISL estimates that stag and hen parties alone bring in approximately £250,000 to Blackpool weekly
The pub trade has urged Blackpool council to rethink its plans for an early morning restriction order (EMRO), saying it will “devastate” the town’s tourism economy and create a “flashpoint” for violence.

Industry figures have spoken out against Blackpool’s EMRO proposal in their submissions as part of the 42-day consultation process, the deadline for which was last week.

If the proposal is approved, all premises in a specified area which are licensed for the sale and supply of alcohol between 03:00 and 06:00 will be affected seven days a week.

Business in Sport and Leisure (BISL), which represents more than 70 private sector companies and organisations, said the restriction would have a negative effect for all aspects of the leisure industry in Blackpool, proving “disastrous” for its economy and workforce.

The body highlighted that visitors spend almost £550m annually and a high percentage of the town’s workforce is related to the tourism and leisure sector.


Last year the town has its most successful tourism summer in four years with 7m visitors, according to the Office for National Statistics, and a rise of 1.7m visitors between May and August compared to 2011.

BISL executive director Andy Sutch said: “The night time economy is vital to leisure businesses in Blackpool – pubs, clubs and the hospitality industry.

“Stag and hen parties alone bring in approximately £250,000 to the town weekly, with money going to a wide range of leisure operators.

“We believe that an EMRO in Blackpool will result in potential visitors choosing to enjoy their nightlife in other cities, to the detriment of Blackpool’s economy and job opportunities.

“We are urging the council to rethink this policy.”

Craig Southall, chairman of Blackpool Pubwatch and manager of Yates pub on Market Street in the town, also made a submission attacking the proposal, highlighting potential problems of over-crowding in the streets.

“If everyone is chucked out at 3am there will be no dispersal - 2,000 people will be on the streets all at once,” he told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser​.

“There won’t be enough taxis to take everyone home and it will go back to how it was 15 years ago when there were a huge number of people gathering around take aways, which will become a flashpoint for violence.”

Drastic action

Dave Daly, manager of the Castle Hotel and north-west chairman of Licensees Unite added that the proposal was “an absolute disgrace”, criticising the restriction as a “nuclear option” full of “political spin” when there are other solutions that have not been tried.

“Existing licensing law already allows the closure of individual sites if they are shown to be troublesome, so why take such drastic action that could cause hundreds, and maybe thousands of job losses? The impact will rebound on taxi drivers, security staff, and workers in restaurants and takeaways,” he said. 

“Blackpool currently has about 4,000 workers in the late night economy, 70% of them aged 18-25 - this area can ill afford to lose any more jobs.

“We urge the council to think again and conduct a thorough examination of alternative options, rather than doing something that condemns the majority for the actions of a few.”

He added recent support from local politicians including Paul Maynard, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, has provided hope for the proposal to be rejected but admitted it was hard to convince licensees with pubs outside of the EMRO area that they would also be affected.

The British Beer & Pub Association  has submitted its views to the consultation. It said that a far better solution to night time problems would be closer working between venues, the Council and the police. Brigid, Simmonds, chief executive, said:  “The council and police understandably want to promote a family friendly destination, but an EMRO is not a catch-all solution.

“It may encourage ‘preloading’ by drinkers who think that venues will close earlier, and would also damage the Blackpool economy. Other local authorities, Hartlepool and Northampton, have just abandoned their plans for an EMRO, and I hope Blackpool has a rethink.  We need closer working between the hospitality sector, the council and the police to tackle problems, as has been done successfully in other towns and cities.”

At least 23 local businesses and residents have responded to the proposal and all contributors will be invited to attend a hearing before the Licensing Committee which is scheduled for 4 and 5 September 2013.

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