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Paperwork delay postpones 3am booze ban hearing

EMRO hearing at Blackpool Town Hall.  Pictured is coun Adrian Hutton.

EMRO hearing at Blackpool Town Hall. Pictured is coun Adrian Hutton.

Pub bosses today branded a controversial booze ban plan “a waste of money” after a hearing to decide whether it should get the green light was adjourned for a second time.

Blackpool could become the first local authority in the country to adopt an Early Morning Restriction Order (EMRO), which would ban venues in the centre of the resort from selling alcohol after 3am.

Lancashire Police has applied for the EMRO because it says action must be taken to curb booze-fuelled violence in the early hours of the morning. Licensees and tourism chiefs in the town have opposed the move because they believe the earlier closing time would be damaging to trade, put many bar workers out of a job and have a negative impact on Blackpool’s image.

Following several hours of legal argument on the first day of what was scheduled to be a week-long hearing yesterday, Blackpool Council’s licensing committee agreed to adjourn the matter for at least a month.

The decision came after lawyers acting for the pub and club industry argued there had been a “wholesale failure” in giving interested parties documentation in time.

Speaking after the meeting, held at Town Hall yesterday, nightclub owner Peter Bowden hit out at the toll the process is taking on the public purse.

Mr Bowden, who believes the proposal will threaten the prosperity of his Club Sanuk premises, said: “It’s just another waste of money and we’ve spent a fortune again.”

Dave Daly, North West chairman of Licensees Unite, added: “We’re happy with the adjournment but still disappointed the hearing is going to go ahead.

“It’s been a bit of a mess.”

John Gaunt, representing resort nightspot Funny Girls, told the meeting some affected licensees had not received legal notice of the meeting in time. He said: “These aren’t minor transgressions – these are, in my view, significant transgressions.

“It’s a wholesale failure to deliver the notice to everybody who was party to this meeting.”

Coun Adrian Hutton (pictured), who chaired the meeting, said: “I don’t want to be in this position again.

“It’s got to be third time lucky or there’s going to be a lot of problems for a lot of us.”

The hearing will now be held between mid-January and early February on a date to be confirmed.

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