BANNING all-night drinking would take Huddersfield backwards.
That was the message from bar owners to Barry Sheerman following the Huddersfield MP’s call for new restrictions on licensing hours.
As reported last month, Mr Sheerman believes round-the-clock boozing is a drain on police resources.
He said bars, pubs and clubs should not be allowed to stay open after 3am.
But at a meeting with the MP yesterday, nightspot owners insisted Huddersfield was a safe, enjoyable place for a night out.
And they said the night-time economy would be decimated by a return to restricted opening times.
Jonnie Tash ran Iocus bar on King Street until it was forced to close because of the recession in July.
He told Mr Sheerman: “Huddersfield shouldn’t go backwards in time, it should go forwards and embrace the changes.
“Let’s not create a problem where there isn’t one.”
Jonnie was joined by Ryan Blyth, who runs the Dawn Chorus club night, and Thamar Monet, who owns Mymou on Queen Street for yesterday’s meeting.
They are heavily involved in a campaign on social networking website Facebook called ‘Say no to MP Barry Sheerman to stop all night drinking in Huddersfield.’ It has more than 1,300 supporters.
Jonnie added: “There are significant economic benefits to the town in what we do.
“Huddersfield is not a bad place. If you ask the police on the ground, who are out there doing the enforcement, they say Huddersfield is not the Wild West.
“We don’t have problems compared to a lot of other places.”
Mr Sheerman said he had been told alcohol was a major contributor to crime.
He added: “Part of my campaign since I became an MP was to make Huddersfield special.
“I want my town to be for all people. It’s still the case that if you ask most people, they feel the centre of town is only for young people on a night.”
But the bar owners said cheap alcohol at supermarkets was more to blame.
Jonnie said: “People are pre-loading by drinking at home, then coming to the town centre at 10pm or 11pm, into our venues and not buying drinks.
“An incident then happens in the town centre and people say: ‘There’s a problem with late-night drinking in Huddersfield’.”
The bar owners said lots of students chose Huddersfield because of its nightlife – and if it was restricted they would go elsewhere.
Thamar said: “Without the students you would probably close half the venues.
“Not just the licensed venues but food places and clothes shops.”
Ryan added: “You imagine all the shops boarded up because people are going out of town. That’s what would happen.”
Mr Sheerman said he would think about what the group had said.
He said: “I’m going to go away and think about it, because I am open to discussion.
“I do realise I’m of a generation that can’t get my head around this. But I haven’t just been asking old curmudgeons like me, I’m asking a whole range of people.”
After the meeting Jonnie said moves to restrict licences would be disastrous.
He said: “In the short-term, there would be uproar, but in the medium to long-term the Huddersfield economy would suffer.”