Businessmen bid to ‘clean up’ the town

The exterior of the new Champs Sports Bar on Church Street, Blackpool
The exterior of the new Champs Sports Bar on Church Street, Blackpool
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Businessmen are investing thousands of pounds in two run-down Blackpool bars in a bid to improve their bad reputations and “extend” the town.

Matthew Clews and James Swift have taken up the leases of two bars on Church Street, an area which had become notorious with police for flouting regulations.

The pair are launching Champs Bar tonight, and are renovating nearby Bar 137, investing around £15,000 in the projects in a bid to “extend the town’s offering”.

Mr Clews has said he is confident the venues, in bars which prospered during the heyday of superclub The Syndicate, will help to transform the area.

He said: “We are trying to clean that part of the town up. It is hard to shift a reputation and a stigma that a bar has.

“Bar 137, unfortunately, has a bad rep, so by closing it for a period, renovating and re-branding it, we hope to be able to work the two bars together to complement one another, and bring business back up to that part of town again.

“We wanted to open a nice, upmarket bar in Bar 137, so we thought we’d open a sports bar along there too, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.

“We thought we’d take two bites of the cherry to pick up that part of town, to extend the town centre past the Winter Gardens.”

Champs Bar has had £7,000 invested in it, installing televisions and screens for sports matches and taking on five new staff members.

The businessmen were warned by Blackpool Council’s licensing committee last month, as the license for Bar 137 was reviewed,they would be closely watched due to the venue’s history, but that council bosses hoped their businesses would succeed.

Under previous management, Bar 137 had attracted regular visits from officials who found it to be serving alcohol out of its licensing hours, once as early as 8.30am, allowing patrons to smoke indoors with CCTV footage showed a baby crawling around a dirty floor in the bar.

Mr Clews and Mr Swift are now operating the bars anew.

Mr Clews added: “That warning spurs us on really. It gives us a bit more fire in our bellies, an incentive to make these bars right.”

The bar opens tonight with a special opening party, from 7pm, and will be open daily from midday.