Bar BB11’s owner Paul Roberts is one man who firmly believes Burnley is still very much the place to be – so much so he has taken over Barcode and is planning to reopen the Hammerton Street venue in September.
When asked for his views on the town centre and its nightlife, this was his response.
“I think Burnley is one of the best towns within reasonable distance for a night out.
“I can already hear your mumbles! Let me explain. Since the previous Burnley Express articles I’ve listened to a lot of people talk about Burnley’s nightlife as you’ve made it quite a hot topic of discussion!
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“From listening to people, I realise it’s very easy for them to mistakenly compare Burnley ‘town’ to nearby ‘cities’. Especially with all this late night bus to Manchester malarkey!
Is anywhere as busy as it was 10 years ago? Not just nightclubs, but shops, markets, big retailers? Before the smoking ban, the double dip recession malarkey, the terrifying cheap supermarket deals etc.Bar BB11 owner Paul Roberts
“Cities are a different ball game, everyone has bigger budgets, from the venue owners to the police and the council. Let’s stop comparing the town to cities. Let’s compare towns to towns.
“Compared to most towns around here Burnley’s nightlife is absolutely electric! You can have a great night out without the expense of going to a city. My partner, Leah, and I, have been looking for a new venue for the past year, we’ve been visiting other nearby towns, Accrington, Blackburn, Rawtenstall, Darwen. When we compare these towns to Burnley, in our opinion, Burnley was coming out on top! Which is why we decided our second venue would be in Burnley, and that’s why we’ve taken over the Barcode building. We believe in the town, we are committed to the town, and we are putting our money where our mouth is!
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“I know you’re going to be a tough cookie to crack on the subject of Burnley’s nightlife. I imagine you’re thinking along the lines of, ‘Ok you have a fair point, it’s probably better than most other towns around here, but it’s still not what it was 10 years ago’. Hey, I’ll agree to that. It isn’t what it was 10 years ago. Agreed.
“Is anywhere as busy as it was 10 years ago? Not just nightclubs, but shops, markets, big retailers? Before the smoking ban, the double dip recession malarkey, the terrifying cheap supermarket deals etc. It’s all happened in recent years. I don’t know if you’ll agree but in my opinion nothing is what it was 10 years ago – and how boring would life be if it was?
“I employ a few students, a few from the local UCFB. One of them isn’t from around here, he has never seen Burnley 10 years ago, he’s only 19. I remember when he first started, he was, and still is, amazed at how busy Burnley is on a night out – he absolutely loves it. It strikes me that he has the same perception of the town as the younger generation of clubbers, the 18 to 22 year olds who come out now and enjoy Burnley, and take it for what it is. Is it fair for an older generation to come along and burst their bubble?
“We need more people going out with the view to enjoy their night and socialise with friends. Instead of people going out to pass judgement and waste their night looking for things to complain about.
“I’d like to also give Burnley Council a mention. They seem to be getting a hard time lately. Without flattering them too much I think Burnley Council is great.
“There are a lot worse out there! Some councils are just impossible to work with. Burnley Council has always been fair with myself and very helpful.
“I was at a meeting a while ago where they got a lot of stick for business rates. People don’t understand sometimes their hands are tied, there are some things they can do, and some things they can’t do. A prime example is business rates, they don’t have the power to lower people’s business rates – that lies with the VOA and is a government issue. Business rates are a huge problem but I knew they were when I set up my business and accounted for them. I hate that club owners get smashed with such heavy bills but I make my peace with it and live with it.
“Now whilst praising Burnley council I won’t stand here and say they’re the best council in the world, there are a few things I feel they could improve, such as parking in the town centre, allocating budgets and spending to areas that need it more than others. What I will say is the council is currently working on setting up a forum with business owners and licensing, to hear our voice and listen to our views.
“I’ll leave with my final thoughts, that I’m a big believer in ‘its not where you go, its who your with’. If you’re with decent company, beer and music, you’ll enjoy yourself whether you’re on a desert island or in the heart of a festival.”