A possible ban on Walsall town centre venues selling alcohol beyond certain times in the was likened to ‘something out of a dystopian novel’.

Walsall Council’s safety and licensing committee has now decided against implementing measures allowing a blanket ban on the sale of alcohol between midnight and 6am. The committee met this week to discuss the possibility of an Early Morning Restriction Order (EMRO) following the death of a local man, Bailey Atkinson, who was killed in the early hours of the morning in the town centre in January, however, at a meeting this week, members said efforts should be concentrated on tackling premises which breach licensing objectives rather than a blanket curfew on everyone.

At present a number of venues have licences which allow them to stay open between 2am and 8.30am.

Cllr Nick Gandham, who chairs the committee, said:

“Walsall’s night-time economy is suffering at the moment, as is the whole hospitality industry, and it’s not fair a few dictate what everyone else is judged by. I’m not a big fan of the EMRO and am more in favour of enforcement on individual venues not adhering to the licensing objectives, and they are held accountable rather than everybody.”

Cllr Bobby Bains said: “It is difficult to support an EMRO. Closing the town at 2am would have a detrimental effect on the town as the night-time economy employs hundreds of people who would be massively affected. It would further affect the regeneration of the town and lead to more empty premises.” Cllr Aftab Nawaz added: “If we close our town centre at 2am young people would choose to go into Birmingham or Wolverhampton as they stay open later. My fear is we lumber all the night-time economy together because of trouble in one place in the town centre.” EMROs have previously been considered in Blackpool (2014) and Hartlepool (2017) but never adopted.