NIGHTCLUB owners accused of trying to ‘de-chav’ Accrington insist landlords must unite to resuscitate the town’s flagging nightlife.
Controversial posters were sent to nightspots announcing a blanket ban on punters wearing designer brands including Henleys, Timberland and Bench.
But the idea of a town centre-wide labels ban from 1 October fell through when some licensees refused to implement it and police denied it had their endorsement.
One of the main backers of the dress code scheme was Level One, on Warner Street.
Joint owner Leon Kelly claimed it was originally backed by the other landlords at a series of meetings held with licensing officials.
He said: "The dress code was the first step in trying to improve the town. We needed to do something to smarten up the town’s image.
"The thinking behind banning those brands was people perceived the town was full of deadheads and yobbos wearing chavvy wear.
"Unfortunately a lot of bars weren’t committed from day one and they felt it would cost them their livelihoods. I think people panicked too early."
Thair Iqbal, joint owner of Industry, on Church Street, agreed.
He said: "We have noticed that these designer clothes attract the rough side of the market. They might wear designer clothing but they cause the most trouble. I’m totally in favour of the dress code but unfortunately to implement it you need to work together. We enforce our own dress code at Industry, we don’t allow Nike Air bubble trainers or sportswear."
According to Mr Iqbal the main reason why the town centre is struggling is that there are too many late licences issued, and consequently most venues get going too late.
He said: "Fifteen years ago when I was a doorman I used to queue people up on a Sunday at nine o’clock, but now it’s basically a ghost town.
"The key to this is for everybody to come together and start serving earlier and closing earlier."
Mr Kelly added: "A lot of people have got a fear of Accrington which I don’t know where it’s come from. When I try and invite people into my club I get a very negative response. They say we like your club, but we want to go to other places beforehand and we don’t feel comfortable in those venues."
The latest proposal to attract visitors back to Accrington town centre is for a two-day open air music festival with bands and DJs, possibly around next April.
Bal Bhullar, of Bailey’s, said: "A proposal has been submitted to the council.
"Principally it is to improve the image of the town by saying we have got a vibrant and diverse musical offering to come and get you to experience it week in, week out."