Reduce business rates to help boost Burnley nightlife
A few weeks ago legendary Retro DJ Paul Taylor told the Burnley Express he believed Burnley’s nightlife was “dead and buried”.
He said witnessing the decline of the town’s once thriving club scene had left him feeling depressed and Burnley would now struggle to recapture those glory days.
However, Remedy co-owner Madge Nawaz believes that while the town has had its problems in recent times it most certainly is not dead and buried.
“It’s been a difficult few years for the pub and club trade but town is certainly not dead. There is still plenty going on and there are some really good nights happening down Burnley but all the bar owners in town now need to join up and work on moving forward together, before it is too late.”
It is not just a problem localised to Burnley. Figures released this week by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers have revealed that nearly half the UK’s nightclubs have shuts their doors in just 10 years. In 2005 there were 3,144 clubs and this is now down to 1,733.
The smoking ban, cheap supermarket deals, the financial crash, people becoming more heath conscious. Regardless of who you speak to, it seems there are a number of contributing factors.
Madge believes business rates in the town centre is another one of the main reasons.
“The council needs to bring the rates down. Surely it would make more sense to lower the rates and get more businesses into the town rather than have high rates and empty buildings. Everybody is struggling financially nowadays and it is the kind of boost which could really help the town centre.
“There are plenty of people around with ideas. We want to put on a street festival outside Remedy and Mojitos. Close off the road, have some live music, some food stalls, rides. There would be a really good atmosphere and I’m sure it is something a lot of people would enjoy. We need the council’s help with road closures and licensing and things like that though. We’re willing to put the effort in, hopefully they are too.”
Frankie Musso, who runs Blu-Bar in town, added: “I think it’s important to note that we are talking about an over regulated industry, and many bars and clubs like ourselves should receive more flexibility from our local authorities and the Government. The smoking ban, licensing laws and the increased sale of cheap alcohol in supermarkets who do not have to adhere to the same laws as we do, has created a whole new world order.
“Of course we have seen big changes in the nightlife economy, with the popularity of things like festivals, cheap package holidays, and people just generally feeling the pinch of the recession. I think times have changed and relying on a crowd of punters to walk into your place just won’t wash any more. You have to become the destination and not just a place on the map.
“Blu-Bar has evolved to change with these times. The night-time economy, however, is far from dead, it’s just very different.”
Kate Ingram, head of regeneration, said: “We’re happy to work with local businesses wherever we can to help revitalise the local economy, however business rates are set at a national level and we don’t control them locally. Earlier this year the Government conducted a review on business rates nationally and we understand they will report on these findings by Budget 2016.”