Hundreds sign petition to get Hartlepool bars to close earlier
A petition calling on council chiefs to change alcohol hours in Hartlepool has been signed by hundreds of people.
Town resident Stephen Worthy has launched the online petition to try to persuade licensing officials to revert to 2am closing for town centre pubs and bars.
He says the current opening hours up until 4am mean the town is like a ghost town until late at night and contribute to a bad reputation for violence.
The petition calls on the council to use its licensing powers to introduce an Early Morning Restriction Order (EMRO) banning the sale of alcohol in pubs and clubs between 2am and 6am.
More than 600 people have signed it so far, and a motion on the issue is due to be presented to councillors at the next Hartlepool Full Council meeting.
Mr Worthy, 39, said: “At the moment when you drive through the town it is like a ghost town.
“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.
“No-one is going to invest in a ghost town. A lot of people go out of town for the fact Hartlepool is dead until late on and is full of idiots full of drink.”
Seaton Councillor Paul Thompson will put forward a motion echoing the petition at the full council meeting on Thursday, February 23.
He said: “We both recall when the Hartlepool night time economy was booming and pubs were closed at an appropriate time.
“If we brought the licensing laws back to something sensible such as 2am, not only will it be safer for people enjoying the town centre, it will be more profitable and less stretch on existing resources such as the police and ambulance services.”
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 over £30 million a year and is strongly linked to violent crime.
But the council’s Licensing Committee said crime had gone down in recent times and could not be attributed directly to the late opening hours.
Other members said it would not stand up to a costly legal challenge from the national pub chains.
To sign Stephen’s petition go to www.change.org and search under Hartlepool.