Leading trade figures have welcomed Blackpool Council’s licensing committee’s rejection of an early morning restriction order (EMRO), which would have banned the sale of alcohol in licensed premises in the town from 3am to 6am.

The committee decided an EMRO would not have a positive effect on violent crime, but said there was “need for some positive action within Blackpool”, recommending a night-time economy working group between the police, authority and pub trade. The final decision must be approved by the full council, but it is unlikely that it will overturn the recommendation.

If introduced, Blackpool would have been the first council to implement an EMRO and it is thought this would have given other local authorities the green light.

Kate Nicholls, strategic affairs director at the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) said the committee’s decision was a “victory for common sense” and even the police recognised an EMRO would lead to job losses and business failures.

“In the current climate [an EMRO] is not sustainable when there are more viable measures on the table to resolve the problem. It wouldn’t do anything to resolve issues of crime and disorder and anti-social behaviour the police are concerned about.

“The problems we face as a society are about irresponsible consumption – not about irresponsible retailing.

“We hope the leader of the council and the cabinet take the advice of their specialist committee and don’t slap an ASBO on the town.” 

British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds added: “It’s the right decision, and very good news. “It is clear that Blackpool’s licensing committee has considered the issues in great detail, and can see the benefits of partnership working, as well as the damage an EMRO would inflict on the local trade.

“Making partnerships work, to tackle any late night problems, has got to be the right way forward.”

Tim Hulme, chief executive of BII (British Institute of Innkeeping), also said he was “delighted” that the committee has “seen sense and taken the right decision”.

Martin Rawlings, trade consultant and former director of pub and leisure at British Beer and Pub Association, said the challenge for the trade will now be in delivering partnership initiatives.

He said the trade had asked for six months to come up with a plan for the night-time economy but the committee has given them only three months. He added: “It is unheard of for a full council to reject a committee’s decisions and in this case I should think it would be challengeable if they did.”

Councillor Simon Blackburn, leader of Blackpool Council, said: “Needless to say, this decision is disappointing. The Council will now need to focus its efforts on examining other ways in which the huge problems caused by late night drinking can be tackled.

“Of all the many objections to the EMRO, nobody suggested that late night drinking in Blackpool was not a problem - so that is a good starting point.”