POLICE believe a pilot scheme that saw St Helens town centre bars shut at 2am during three weekends in January helped curb incidents of late-night violence and disorder.
Licensees of nightspots cut the trial short by a week because they believed the early closure times were driving away customers. Normal opening resumed last weekend.
Licensees on the pubwatch committee met early last week and decided that 2am closures were not working.
In December they had collectively agreed to explore the effects of the change after encouragement from the police. The trial centred on getting people “to go out earlier”.
But it is understood bars, taxi firms and takeaways had mounting concerns about the system once it was in place. Bar goers also criticised the pilot on social media.
Since the relaxation of licensing laws in 2005, bars have been able to open beyond what was the traditional drinking-up time of 11pm for pubs or 2am for nightclubs.
A number of bars in the town centre normally open until 3am at weekends and some use temporary event notices until 5am.
But it is believed bars feared reverting to 2am was making St Helens less attractive to younger customers who are used to starting their nights out late, resulting in them heading elsewhere.
DJ Dex Nelson said: “For some the night was just getting going between 1am and 1.30am and then it was nearly closing time. I personally don’t see the need for bars to be open until 6am but 2am was too soon.”
In December officers rejected suggestions they had pushed for earlier closure times to try and quell incidents of violence or disorder.
Town centre Inspector Dave Brennan, who praised the bars for taking part in the trail, said incidents of violence and disorder were down from 11 to three on like-to-like comparisons with last year.
Chief Inspector Martin Woosey said: “The licensees have the made the decision – at the end of the day it was their initiative it will be back to normal from now on. Town did seem to clear a lot quicker on each of the nights (of early) closure.”