Resort town rejects 3am alcohol ban


Blackpool Tower and pier taken from beach.

Councillors have voted against introducing a ban on alcohol sales after 3am in a seaside tourist resort.

Police and council chiefs in the Lancashire resort of Blackpool wanted an early morning restriction order (EMRO) amid concerns about the impact of late night drinking.

But members of the licensed trade opposed the move as they argued it would drive out business from the town.

Today, Blackpool Council's licensing committee unanimously rejected the application.

Committee chairman Adrian Hutton said: "After careful consideration of all the evidence, the committee has voted against the introduction of an early morning restriction order.

"I would like to thank everyone who took the time to speak and provide us with information in relation to this decision."

Blackpool Council leader Simon Blackburn said: "Needless to say, this decision is disappointing. The council will now need to focus its efforts on examining other ways in which the huge problems caused by late night drinking can be tackled.

"Of all the many objections to the EMRO, nobody suggested that late night drinking in Blackpool was not a problem - so that is a good starting point.

"Our efforts to improve the town's economy, the public health and the visitor experience are all reliant upon a solution to this problem being found. We would like that solution to be one that is acceptable to the licensed trade, the police, the council and the NHS.

"It will be vital that the recommendations of the committee are taken seriously and produce tangible early results. It is not acceptable to continue to let the problems of late night drinking and violence to harm our economy and disrupt the lives of our residents."

In a statement, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Bates said: "We are extremely disappointed at the decision not to grant the early morning restriction order.

"A weight of evidence was presented in support of the council's application that amply demonstrated the real impact late night excessive drinking has on the quality of life, crime and disorder for Blackpool's residents and visitors.

"Personal and extensive testimonies were presented to the committee by police, ambulance staff, hoteliers, railway, shop and post office workers which all gave first-hand insights into the real problems they see and face.

"The evidence we presented in support of the council's application clearly demonstrated a reasonable measure, ceasing the serving at alcohol at 3am, would impact upon a few but would benefit the rest of Blackpool.

"The issue of risk and harm through excessive alcohol consumption remains a high priority for the police and all partners.

"Lancashire Constabulary is committed to work with the all parties to ensure that Blackpool is a place residents and visitors can safely enjoy."

The effect of the order would have been to prohibit alcohol sales between 3am and 6am in a section of the town centre including the North Pier and Blackpool Tower.

In reaching its decision, the committee stated: "Having reviewed all the evidence, considered the proportionality of the EMRO and concluded that whilst positive action was required, this EMRO was not appropriate in the circumstances.

"Having considered the evidence, the committee did not feel that the EMRO would have a positive effect on violent crime in the EMRO hours or overall.

"The committee was mindful that the evidence confirmed that the overwhelming majority of 'troublemakers' were from an FY postcode and that the so-called 'stags and hens' were not the main protagonists of such crime."

It continued: "The committee was not convinced that 'turning off the tap' at 3am, as was the phrase commonly used throughout the hearing, would have a positive impact on the prevention of crime and disorder.

"The committee noted that one effect might be that a great number of individuals would be spilling out on to the streets at the same time and this had the potential for increased levels of crime, disorder and nuisance."

It concluded that the likely cause of trouble was linked to the drinking of alcohol before 3am.
Police said, when submitting their evidence, that the proposed EMRO zone was only 5% of the Blackpool Central policing area but yet accounted for 35% of its violent crime.

A quarter of all violent crime in the EMRO area happened between 3am and 6am while three-quarters of people arrested for violence and disorder were described as drunk, it added.

Arguing against the EMRO, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers said it was an "imperfect solution" as measures were already in place to review the licenses of premises linked to alcohol-fuelled disorder.

It countered that an EMRO did nothing to address problems or implement solutions but "simply places a cap on the market resulting in displacement of activity and crime".

Top 10 most desirable places to live in the UK

Top 10 most desirable places to live in the UK