Blackpool Council leader says EMRO would only affect two nightclubs

By Ellie Bothwell

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Late night License Blackpool

More than 100 businesses have condemned the potential introduction of an EMRO in Blackpool
More than 100 businesses have condemned the potential introduction of an EMRO in Blackpool
The leader of Blackpool Council has said the introduction of an early morning restriction order (EMRO) would only “lead to two nightclubs closing a couple of hours earlier” in the town, despite an influx of responses from the pub industry condemning the proposal.

Responding to local Blackpool newspaper The Gazette’s coverage of a potential EMRO, Councillor Simon Blackburn wrote on his blog that to present a late night restriction “as though this would drop a nuclear bomb on Blackpool’s economy” was “quite frankly ludicrous”.

Last week, on the deadline day for submissions as part of the 42-day consultation, The Gazette joined licensees and politicians in their campaign opposing an EMRO in the town, with the front page headline ‘DO NOT GIVE BLACKPOOL AN ASBO’.

More than 100 local businesses and licensees including Pubwatch, the Blackpool Business Improvement District (BID) and Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) raised their concerns over the long term damage an EMRO would have on tourism, jobs and the late night economy, with many submitting formal responses to the proposal, urging the council to rethink the restriction.

However, Blackburn criticised the way this was covered in The Gazette, in particular condemning their “irresponsibility” in failing to acknowledge the number of lives that are “ruined by alcohol-related violence”.

“I won’t analyse every aspect of the coverage and I’m not looking to campaign for or against an EMRO,” he said.

“It’s for the Licensing Committee to make a recommendation under a free vote based on the evidence brought forward.

“But I felt the stance taken was disproportionate, inconsistent and, above all, socially irresponsible.”

Blackburn confirmed that the EMRO decision was far from “a done deal” and no conclusion would be made until all views had been heard and all facts discussed.

'Flawed' proposal

Peter Bowden, owner of Club Sanuk, one of the venues that would be affected by an EMRO, and leader of the Say No To EMRO campaign in Blackpool, said the whole process of introducing the restriction in the town had been “flawed from the start”.

“You can’t just talk about licencing objectives. You have to look at the impact on jobs, the economy, the reputation of the town,” he said.

“For Blackburn to say an EMRO would only affect two nightclubs means an EMRO won’t do anything to change drinking, unless he thinks problems are only caused be two premises. Clearly they’re not. It’s a bit embarrassing what he’s done really.

“My view is they have rushed through to try and be the first town to introduce an EMRO.”

Bowden said he wrote an email to Blackburn last month in which he challenged crime statistics presented by the police, arguing that violent crime figures have dramatically dropped in the town since their peak in 2004. He also suggested a series of initiatives and partnerships as alternatives to an EMRO, including the re-introduction of a Best Bar None scheme, minimum entry prices to bars after midnight and responsible alcohol retailing courses for bar staff. However, he said these have all been ignored by the police and local council.

He added that he would continue to keep the Say No To EMRO campaign going with other late night operators in the group.

“We don’t want to lose momentum. But I want to resolve this to not put Blackpool in a bad light. To show that it is a very safe place to be. We will be shouting from the rooftops about that,” he said.

A spokesperson from Funny Girls nightclub, one of the venues affected, also said Blackburn’s post was “bias and unfair during the EMRO consultation”, adding: “We are really up against the determination of Blackpool Council in their crusade to bring in the EMRO at all costs.”

If an EMRO 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.

All those who have submitted responses to the proposal will be invited to attend a hearing before the Licensing Committee which is schedule for 4 and 5 September 2013.

Related topics Licensing law Health & safety

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