Opening hours of town centre bars set to be discussed

Church Street in Hartlepool is said to have seen a drop in revellers until much later at night.
Church Street in Hartlepool is said to have seen a drop in revellers until much later at night.

Licensees could see the hours they can sell alcohol being slashed if a motion is passed by council chiefs.

Hartlepool Borough Council is set to discuss calls for an Early Morning restriction to be introduced throughout the town.

People are sitting at home drinking so they have lower inhibitions as soon as they walk into a bar. Also when they do go out they are not buying as many drinks so it is a lose situation for the bars.

Stephen Worthy

If given the go ahead, it will prevent the sale of alcohol between the hours of 2am and 6am.

The call comes after a petition was launched by resident Stephen Worthy.

He says the current opening hours up until 4am mean the town is like a ghost town until late at night and contributes to a bad reputation for violence.

An online petition has attracted just over 700 signatures calling for an amendment to the existing licensing laws.

It will be put forward as a motion by Seaton Councillor Paul Thompson at the meeting of the full council on Thursday.

The motion calls for Hartlepool Borough Council to: “‘consider amending its Licensing Policy to introduce an Early Morning Restriction Order preventing the sale of alcohol between the hours of 2am and 6am in pubs and clubs within the borough and a report be brought back to council as soon as practicable’”

Speaking at the launch of his petition Mr Worthy, 39, said: “Bars aren’t busy until 11-12 o’clock. People are sitting at home drinking so they have lower inhibitions as soon as they walk into a bar. Also when they do go out they are not buying as many drinks, so it is a lose situation for the bars.

“I know a lot of people on the doors and licensees, and they say if the hours were to go back it would improve.”

About a year ago, the Safer Hartlepool Partnership, which is made up of bodies including the council, police and health organisations, asked EMROs to be considered again after hearing the estimated cost of alcohol misuse to Hartlepool is more than £30million a year and is strongly linked to violent crime.

But the council’s Licensing Committee said crime had gone down in recent times. Other members said it would not stand up to a costly legal challenge from the national pub chains.