NEW drinking regulations could spell the end for Chesterfield’s night life – a business boss fears.
The town’s pubs and bars could be forced to stop serving alcohol after midnight as part of the Government’s drive to end 24 hour drinking.
Under new powers that comes in to force in the autumn, local authorities will be able to impose extended early morning restriction orders.
But Jason Hill, owner of several bars on Corporation Street in Chesterfield, said the move could kill the town’s night time economy.
He added: “The local authorities could be given the powers to shut down the town centre and effectively impose a curfew. That could have a very negative affect and bars could be forced to shut between 12am and 6am.
“If this was brought it would absolutely destroy the industry. To shut at 12am would be ridiculous, it would just shift the trouble to other areas.”
A late night licensing survey carried out by Poppleston Allen, the leading licensing practice in the UK, reports that Chesterfield was likely to implement the orders and was already ready to do so.
Solicitor and author of the survey, Jonathan Smith, said: “Chesterfield Licensing Authority has advised us that they are likely to introduced early morning restriction orders.
“This would see premises prevented from selling alcohol between 12am and 6am.”
Between August and November 2011 the company contacted 99 per cent of licensing authorities in England and Wales.
Mr Smith said that less than five per cent said they were likely to implement early morning restriction orders – but Chesterfield stated it was in favour of the restrictions.
The Government hopes curbing premises opening hours will help tackle alcohol-fuelled disorder, which stems from extended drinking.
But Mr Hill said other methods to improve the town’s night time economy should be explored – including introducing a ‘Purple Flag’ status.
The accreditation scheme is designed to improve town centres at night and recognises excellence in management.
Places including Bath, Canterbury, Covent Garden and Nottingham have all achieved the status.
Mr Hill added: “I think our town centre in a recession has to do whatever it can to keep business moving in the right direction.
“Our businesses are totally dependent on creating a safe, fun and enjoyable experience and there is not a bar in this town that wants business from underage people or is happy to accept anti-social behaviour.
“We have a beautiful little town and what I want to do is show all these night time businesses have a lot to offer.
“We just hope the authorities will be fair and consider us in the process so we can all work together.”
A spokeswoman from Chesterfield Borough Council said consultation on the early morning restriction orders and a late night levy were currently taking place and a final decision had not be made.
She added: “This is only at consultation stage and this finishes on April 10. Any changes to the Act won’t be enforceable until, we expect, October this year. We are consulting with the licensing committee and responses/feedback from this will be sent onto the Government as part of their national consultation.”