A nightclub owner today hit out at council chiefs after claiming he has been excluded from a task force set up to investigate ways of making Blackpool town centre safer at night.
The first meeting of the night time economy working group, set up in the wake of the EMRO (Early Morning Restriction Order) hearing is due to take place this week.
Peter Bowden, owner of Club Sanuk on the Promenade, is angry he has been left off the panel which includes representatives of the council, police and NHS and one member from the licensed trade.
Councillors called for a panel to be formed after they threw out an application for an EMRO in the town centre following a week-long hearing in February.
Police wanted to ban sales of alcohol from 3am after they claimed it was leading to too much violence in the town centre.
Mr Bowden said: “I am currently investing £500,000 in my club so I want to know what is going on in this town.
“I think it is ridiculous you have people on this panel with no experience of the night time economy, yet people like myself who have worked in the licensed trade in Blackpool for many, many years have been excluded. I think I am being excluded because I have too much to say.”
But Coun Gillian Campbell, who is the cabinet member with responsibility for licensing, said while Mr Bowden was not a member of the working group, views of nightclub operators would be sought.
She said: “We have taken our time in setting up the night time economy working group because we want to make sure we get it right, and we have a detailed work plan drawn up.
“One of the key work streams of the group will be looking at safety and nightclubs. As such some of the key people who may be called to speak and give evidence to the working group are owners and operators of nightclubs and bars.
“Additionally, the licensed trade is represented on the group by their own chosen representative body Pubwatch through its chairman Craig Southall.
“This is about working together, not excluding people, and as such I would urge Mr Bowden to come and talk to me if he has any issues.
“I’d be happy to speak to him.”
Mr Bowden said he hoped the panel would be able to build bridges and added he hoped “positive, realistic steps, could be introduced to make Blackpool a better a safer place.”
Coun Adrian Hutton, chairman of the council’s licensing committee, said it was important to keep the group’s numbers down.
He said: “We don’t just want a talking shop, we want a working shop.
“We have got to get something done.
“We will have a representative from all the affected bodies but if we included everybody we would have a working group of hundreds.
“We have got to look at it and see what we can all come to some measure of agreement on, and see how we are going to move this forward.
“We have problems in Blackpool that we need to address.”
The panel has been given four months to come up with recommendations.
It emerged last month the EMRO process cost the taxpayer almost £80,000 in legal fees.
Lancashire Police spent more than £58,000 on legal representation while it cost the council almost £19,000 in terms of clerical and legal support.