Blackpool Council has deferred a hearing into a proposed early morning restriction order (EMRO), which was due to take place from today until Friday, 13 December, after the licensing trade highlighted procedural irregularities in the pre-hearing procedure.

Following a hearing this morning before the Blackpool licensing committee, the council delayed the intended five-day hearing for a second time to a date to be fixed in the new year, after legal representatives, including solicitor John Gaunt, identified procedural failures.

The licensing trade highlighted failures in the Council’s dealing of paperwork, arguing that they did not receive documents within the specific time scale required by legislation.

Although Blackpool Police said this was not a sufficient reason to adjourn the hearing, after seeking legal advice, the Council decided to defer the hearing.

Councillor Adrian Hutton, acting chairman of Blackpool Council’s licensing committee, said: “Having taken legal advice during a break in proceedings, and following legal argument, I proposed that we adjourn the licensing committee meeting until a date next year. We will arrange that all interested parties are notified of the new date as soon as possible and before Christmas. It is vital the legal process is followed to ensure we come to the right decision for Blackpool.”

The decision comes after trade bodies told M&C Report’s sister title the Publican’s Morning Advertiser last week that local authorities, including Blackpool Council, have been making “dreadful procedural errors” and could face challenges from the trade over the introduction of EMROs and late-night levies.

It is the second time the local authority has delayed the EMRO hearing. The local authority previously failed to give the required notice of the hearing and neglected to circulate evidence as required at least 10 working days in advance before the first hearing date of 4 and 5 September.

Licensees in Blackpool have previously questioned the practices of the EMRO consultation in the town, with some calling for the process to be started again.