Late-night alcohol ban rejected by local council

Yates HartlepoolPlans to restrict the hours that alcohol can be sold in bars, pubs and clubs in Hartlepool town centre have been rejected by local councillors.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s licensing committee considered proposals for an Early Morning Alcohol Restriction Order (EMRO) to ban all sales of alcohol between 2am and 6am.

It was put forward by Cleveland Police and Hartlepool’s director of public health Louise Wallace and was the first EMRO to be considered by a local council.

The licensing committee rejected the proposals because councillors feared that a reduction in opening hours could have “serious consequences” for the licensed trade in the town centre. It followed representations from trade associations and pub companies Marston’s, Punch Taverns, JD Wetherspoon and Stonegate, which operates a Yates’s in the town.

The councillors urged operators to take part in schemes such as Best Bar None, which promotes responsible management of licensed premises, adding that the committee would review its decision next year.

The rejection of the EMRO was welcomed by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers. Its strategic affairs director Kate Nicholls said: “We are delighted that the council has seen sense and backed away from such a disproportionate and unnecessary step, and that it recognises the devastating effect this could have had on local licensees businesses.

“An EMRO should be a measure of last resort if the streets are out of control, not a weapon of choice to take away legitimately granted trading hours. Responsible operators in Hartlepool town centre have worked hard during difficult trading conditions on their own management standards as well as investing in security. The fact that crime and disorder in the town centre have fallen substantially over recent years is testament to that and undermines the claim that an EMRO is required.

“We welcome the council backing for local partnership working and stand ready to play our part in delivering a better town centre environment and experience for our guests and workers.

“If the police and local councillors have any residual concerns, we would urge them to work with us – as well as using the full weight of their existing powers against the small number of isolated incidents.”

Other local authorities such as Blackpool are also considering plans for EMROs. Kate added: “We hope other councils take note and follow Hartlepool’s lead in thinking long and hard about the evidence base to support such a costly intervention, and its consequences.”

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