Blackpool's licensing committee votes against EMRO

By Carina Perkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Blackpool's licensing authorities have voted against imposing an EMRO in the town centre
Blackpool's licensing authorities have voted against imposing an EMRO in the town centre
Blackpool Borough Council’s licensing committee has voted against the imposition of an Early Morning Restriction Order (EMRO) in the town centre.

The vote follows a consultation on the issue, and a four-day hearing where committee members heard evidence from hospitality trade bodies.

The proposed EMRO would have prevented the sale of alcohol on 14 streets in Blackpool town centre between 3-6am on every night of the year except New Year’s Eve.

Industry leaders warned this would have a devastating impact​ on the town’s economy, and could actually encourage people to drink more before pubs and bars shut up shop.

The committee agreed that the EMRO was “not appropriate” and could actually have a negative impact on the town.

“The Committee was of the view that there was also a real risk that patrons would ‘hoard’ drink in anticipation of any 3am terminal hour and that this also mitigated the ‘turning off of any tap’ at 3am,” it said.

“Whether there was hoarding or an exodus at 3am, the Committee was of the view that both scenarios may have a negative impact on the licensing objectives.”

The committee instead called for a multi-agency Night Time Economy Working Group to report back to the Council in three months.

The decision must now be approved by a full council vote on 28 February.

Industry approval

Speaking after the vote, Kate Nicholls, strategic affairs director for ALMR – which represents the interests of licensed hospitality operators – urged the council to take note of the committee’s recommendations.

“The problems we face as a society are about irresponsible consumption – not about irresponsible retailing. We hope the leader of the council and the cabinet take the advice of their specialist committee and don’t slap an ASBO on the town,” she said.

“We wholeheartedly agree with the committee that partnership solutions are the best way to take the town forward and we stand ready to play our part in delivering a safer, more attractive Blackpool for all.”

British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Brigid Simmonds said the decision was “great news” for Blackpool’s pubs and bars.

“It is clear that Blackpool’s Licensing Committee has considered the issues in great detail, and can see the benefits of partnership working, as well as the damage an EMRO would inflict on the local trade,” she said.

“Making partnerships work, to tackle any late night problems, has got to be the right way forward.”

EMROs in the UK 

EMROs were introduced under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 and came into force in October 2012.

They allow licensing authorities to restrict the sale of alcohol for the whole or part of their area for any period of time between midnight and 6am.

No councils have yet imposed an EMRO, although Blackpool is the third town to consider the use of one to tackle the problems linked to alcohol related crime.

Hartlepool and Northampton both considered EMROs but rejected them as a result of the potential negative impacts​ on business and employment.

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