Booze ban hearing postponed

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A decision on whether to ban alcohol sales after 3am in parts of Blackpool town centre has been delayed.

Licensing councillors had been due to meet on September 4 and 5 to consider controversial plans to introduce an Early Morning Restriction Order (EMRO) in the resort.

But the meeting has been postponed because it is now expected to take five days to hear all the evidence.

A Blackpool Council spokesman said: “Originally the licensing committee was due to meet over two days to discuss the EMRO application.

“After receiving concerns from a number of parties it has been agreed this needs to be extended to five days. Therefore we are currently working to finalise new dates when the committee can meet.”

The confirmation came after it was revealed a failure by the council to give the required notice of hearing and a reported failure to circulate evidence, as required, at least 10 working days in advance of a hearing.

Peter Bowden, owner of the Sanuk nightclub and who is opposed to the EMRO, said he hoped the delay would 
give all parties breathing space to come up with an 
alternative solution.

He said: “We are glad the hearing has been delayed because we hope this will give everyone – the operators, council and police – chance to sit round a table and discuss the issues before getting into an expensive legal battle.

“The good thing that has come out of this is that we are all talking to each other and we all want the same thing, which is for Blackpool to be a better place.

“Surely we can come up with a better solution.”

The police have applied for an EMRO to restrict alcohol sales after 3am at venues in a designated area of the town centre in order to tackle late night violence.

A Cumulative Impact Zone has been drawn up from North Pier in the west, past The Tower in the south and into town as far east as Blackpool North railway station and north to 
Princess Parade.

This is where the concentration of late licenses are including Club Sanuk and the Funny Girls complex.

Blackpool would be the first public authority in England to bring in an EMRO, a move many in the tourist and leisure industry see as unjustified and damaging to the town’s reputation.

Club operators have warned the move will damage the tourist trade and result in job losses.

Crime, particularly violent crime, has fallen in Blackpool town centre since opening hours were relaxed under the Licensing Act almost a decade ago.

The Gazette, last month, joined with leading tourism businesses to call on the council to consider alternatives to an EMRO.