Blackpool Council could be first to face legal challenge over EMRO

By Ellie Bothwell

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Legal challenge Councillor

Blackpool Council is holding a five-day hearing on a proposed EMRO from 9 to 13 December
Blackpool Council is holding a five-day hearing on a proposed EMRO from 9 to 13 December
Local authorities have been making “dreadful procedural errors” and could face legal challenges from the trade over the introduction of early-morning restriction orders (EMROs) and late-night levies (LNLs), trade bodies have claimed. 

It has been mooted Blackpool Council could be the first authority to face a legal challenge if an EMRO is approved after a five-day hearing next week.

This is significant as it is thought that other local authorities could follow Blackpool’s lead if they approve the introduction of an EMRO in the city.

'Dreadful errors'

Poppleston Allen partner Clare Eames said there was currently an “appetite” among licensing authorities for the measures. But she added: “Local authorities have been making dreadful procedural errors.”

She added: “If the [Blackpool] EMRO is pushed through it is likely to be subject to further legal challenge. We don’t know the detail of that yet because the hearing hasn’t happened.  There are legal representatives going to a five-day hearing and obviously it will be very significant for the trade. The legal challenge would have to be in the High Court.”


The council was forced to defer the initial hearing date of 4 and 5 September after it failed to give the required notice and to circulate evidence as required at least 10 working days in advance.

Licensing councillors will now meet from Monday, 9 December until Friday, 13 December to hear representations on the proposal with the first day set aside for legal arguments, but it is thought the authority has yet again failed to abide by the correct notice period.

Legal challenge

Kate Nicholls, strategic affairs director for the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, said: “There are some procedural issues that we have raised with them.

“[But] we want to focus on the substantive point of how appropriate an EMRO is. We will have to see if there are grounds for a legal challenge after the hearing.”

Dave Daly, north-west chairman of Licensees Unite, supports a legal challenge. He said: “We’re relying on the barristers to win the case against an EMRO.”

Late-night levy

Blackpool councillor Tony Williams, leader of the Conservative opposition, planned to put forward a motion calling for an LNL to be considered instead of an EMRO at a full council meeting last week, but the meeting was postponed after licensing chairman Norman Hardy died last Tuesday (26 November).

Williams said an EMRO was currently the “foregone conclusion” from the council but, although he is against both restrictions, a LNL would be a “much less severe measure” that would better address problems in the town, most of which occur before 3am.


“The EMRO doesn’t manage the night-time economy, it eradicates it. To the rest of the world, it makes it appear we are out of control,” he said.

“A late-night levy is seen as being an extra tax. I don’t see it that way. I look at it as contributing to problems or issues late-night drinking can bring. That’s not just bad behaviour or antisocial behaviour — it would also fund the clean-up.”

He said it was “arguable whether the police have ever done their job properly in terms of the late-night economy” and added he was more in favour of “smarter working” between licensees, the police and the council.

Related topics Legislation Health & safety

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