LICENSEES have given a welcome to council plans to revitalise the town’s night-time economy.

The landlords were particularly keen on the idea of regular student nights and reduced business rates.

However some were unsure that the measures would be able to attract sufficient numbers back to the centre.

As part of the ‘kick-starting the night time economy’ initiative’ the council envisages establishing a night-time economy working group which will commit to work together to stage weekly student and live music nights in return for reduced business rates of up to 50 per cent.

It will also establish King George’s Hall as a venue for big music acts and regular functions as well as opening up Blakey’s to casual customers on Friday and Saturday nights, risking a monthly loss of £1,600 unless trade picks up.

Team leader at Molloys Michael Derby said: “Student nights would be great because whilst we have student customers there isn’t really a student scene and it would help improve midweek takings.”

Sun Hotel landlord Philip Price said: ”Reduced business rates are really important because in some areas they are currently simply unaffordable.

“They made us give up the management of the Jubilee a few years ago.”

Blackburn Times general manager Chris Corey said: “I would welcome any initiative to try bring people back to this end of town.

“However it could be hard to bring people back when they just don’t have the spare money to spend at the moment.”

Charles Napier landlord Rosaline Panaro said: “Student nights are a good idea, but they haven’t worked for us I think because people who study at the university centre are either mature students with family responsibilities or foreign students who don’t drink.”

In the 1960s and 1970s, Blackburn was a magnet for young people coming to rock and pop concerts at King George’s Hall and with the Cavendish Club in Lord Square also hosting up-and -coming bands.

The town had several other clubs, including the Mecca in St Peter Street and Coconut Grove, during that period which also had a thriving pub trade in and around the central area.

But in the 1980’s ‘The Cav’ became Romeo and Juliet’s and Blackburn gained a rough reputation.

The club coach trade started to move to Burnley, where Angels, the Cat’s Whi- skers and Annabels gained reputations across the North of England. Despite rebranding Romeo and Juliet’s as Peppermint Place, and the continuing popularity of the now lost Barbary Coast pub run, the decline of Blackburn as a nightime venue gathered pace in the last decade.

Now the council hopes to bring big acts back to King George’s and create a hive of live music activity around it to lure young people from across Lancashire to go out in the town at night.

Mark Murray, director of Blackburn-based TPW Design Consultants, said: “Blackburn needs a stronger night-time economy, which means it needs to attract quality restaurants, hotels, night clubs, bars, music, arts and entertainment, etc.

“But as well as all this, it is important that local people start belonging to Blackburn again and come here for a night out instead of travelling to other local towns, which I believe they would if these things were available.”