Blackpool is set to play a pivotal role in the future of drinking hours in the UK, a leading group of licensees has warned.
The council will be the first local authority in the country to consider restricting licensing hours since 24 hour drinking was introduced in 2005, when it holds a hearing in December into proposals to adopt an Early Morning Restriction Order (EMRO).
The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), which represents independent pub and bar operators, says if Blackpool goes ahead with the EMRO, other towns and cities will follow.
ALMR strategic affairs director Kate Nicholls said: “Blackpool is the only local authority to currently have a live EMRO consultation running and it will be the first to hold a full detailed hearing to discuss the potentially adverse impact of imposing this restriction on local business.
“We believe this will be significant not only in terms of jobs and investment but also in terms of the facilities open to Blackpool residents as well as visitors. It will diminish the variety and mix of late night businesses and have a knock on effect to the day time and tourist economy due to the very real reputation risks it poses. An EMRO is effectively slapping an ASBO on the town centre and saying the streets are out of control.
“There is no doubt the trade, other licensing authorities and the police across the country will be monitoring the debate in Blackpool very closely as it will become, in effect, a test case for the new powers and what evidence is required to remove an individual’s legitimate right to trade.
“I have no doubt if Blackpool is successful, more local authorities will be willing to consider the use of an EMRO – but they will keep a close eye as well on the legal costs of pressing ahead with the plan.”
A five-day hearing will be held at Blackpool Town Hall from December 9 to 13.
Blackpool police have applied for the EMRO to restrict alcohol sales after 3am in order to crack down on alcohol-fuelled violent crime which they say is stretching the resources of the emergency services.
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, where there is a concentration of late licences.