Council decides not to impose ban on early morning drinking

The council decided not to impose the Early Morning Restriction Order.
The council decided not to impose the Early Morning Restriction Order.

Hartlepool licensing officials will not bring in legislation that would force pubs and clubs to close earlier on a morning.

Hartlepool Brough Council’s Licensing Committee looked into the feasibility of introducing an Early Morning Alcohol Restriction Order (EMRO) in Hartlepool.

An investigation was carried out in response to a motion by former Seaton councillor Paul Thompson in February for the council to consider an EMRO to preventing the sale of alcohol between 2am and 6am.

It followed an online petition by town resident Stephen Worthy who said 4am closing had turned Hartlepool’s once busy night life into a shadow of what it used to be.

But the council’s investigation decided an EMRO is not appropriate and it faced a legal bill of more than £100,000 to defend such an order.

Chair of the council’s licensing committee Councillor Brenda Loynes said: “The licensing committee instructed officers to gather evidence and a thorough and detailed report was subsequently presented to the committee in July.”

Coun Loynes explained it was the fourth time the council has considered an EMRO in recent years but no authority in the country has adopted one.

And a House of Lords study recommended they be removed from the statute book.

Coun Loynes added: “Evidence provided by Cleveland Police demonstrated that the level of crime and violence in the night-time economy has fallen significantly since the Licensing Act and subsequent later hours was introduced in 2005, and therefore the evidential base for justifying an EMRO was simply not sufficient.

“As such, and taking into consideration the costs that this council would incur in defending an EMRO through the courts the committee determined it would not be appropriate to recommend an EMRO to the council.”

The investigation acknowledged the current trend is where revellers load up on cheap alcohol at home before heading into town often after midnight.

But it said there are alternatives to EMROs including reviewing the licences of individual problem premises, working with licensed premises on a voluntary basis and confiscating alcohol in designated areas.

A council report stated the licensing industry had set aside funds to challenge any authority that introduced an EMRO.

The licensing committee also recommended the issue is not considered again by the council for at least five years, or until police ask for it.