Today sees the start of a hearing which could see Blackpool make licensing history.
The resort is poised to be the first local authority in the country to adopt an Early Morning Restriction Order (EMRO) to reign in licensing hours.
Legal representatives of Blackpool Council and pub companies opposed to the move to ban alcohol sales after 3am were due to gather at the town hall today for the start of the week-long hearing.
It will be chaired by Licensing Committee vice-chairman Coun Adrian Hutton (pictured) following the sudden death of licensing chairman Coun Norman Hardy on November 26.
The meeting will be suspended tomorrow to enable committee members to attend the funeral of Coun Hardy, who was also a former mayor.
Lancashire Police have applied for the EMRO because they say action must be taken to curb booze-fuelled violence in Blackpool in the early hours of the morning.
But licensees have warned the move would be damaging to trade, and to the town’s reputation, and could put hundreds of bar workers out of work.
They will put forward alternatives instead, including proposals to create a fund to pay for CCTV cameras.
A total of 71 representations have been received by the council ahead of the hearing which was due to start at 9.30am today at the town hall.
Peter Bowden, owner of the Sanuk nightclub on Central Promenade, said: “We would still prefer to sit down with the council and discuss other ways of handling this.”
The EMRO would prohibit the sale of alcohol in a designated area of the town centre between 3am and 6am every day except Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
Currently there are 24 premises in Blackpool authorised to sell alcohol after 3am, although not all of them regularly trade using their full permitted hours.
At the end of the hearing, the committee can either decide to recommend to the council to introduce the EMRO, throw the application out altogether or propose a modified EMRO.
If they choose to take the latter course of action, the whole process would begin again based on the modified terms.