THE leader of Blackpool Council says he is “actively pursuing” restricting pubs and clubs opening hours in a bid to reduce problems linked to drunkenness and disorder.
Coun Simon Blackburn was speaking at the Our Blackpool Your Voice meeting, which allowed members of the public to ask questions of their community leaders on the Blackpool Fairness Commission.
More than 50 people turned out at Palatine High School in South Shore for the two hour meeting yesterday where questions about excess drinking, how to create aspiration and improve the economy were put to a panel of eight.
In answer to a question about what is being done to stem anti-social behaviour in the town centre, Coun Blackburn said the council was seriously looking into restricting the hours pubs and clubs can stay open to.
He said: “As of April local authorities will have new powers to employ restriction orders. We can show evidence that late drinking is causing problems.
“Following a consultation process we can limit the time that these premises can open.”
Coun Blackburn said in the past there was a presumption that late licences would be granted unless there were serious reasons to refuse them, but now councils can have the power to prevent all night drinking.
He added: “24 hour licences and the continental hours culture have not worked across the country but specifically here in Blackpool. It is not just putting holidaymakers off coming, it is putting off everybody coming into town at certain times of night.”
Claire Smith, from Stay Blackpool, who was also on the panel, said binge drinking was damaging the reputation of the town.
She said: “If this were stopped it would be better for Blackpool and better for families.”
Chief Insp Stuart Noble, from Lancashire Police, said excess drinking was clearly linked to anti-social behaviour in Blackpool and it could only be tackled by enforcement, education and countering the heavy advertising from the drinks industry.
He said: “We have section 27 orders to ban people from areas of town but our strategy must be to make early interventions and prevent anti-social behaviour escalating.
“We can work together with the health teams and education but we are up against a lot of competition from the advertising of the industry.”
Nick Gradwell, from Blackpool Low Vision Committee, said: “The impact of excessive drinking on health is well established and the panel needs to think about what can be done at a local level to counter the cheap minimum priced booze sold in the town.”
Neil Jack, the council’s chief executive, said: “We can also be stronger on underage drinking such as through the challenge 25 scheme.”