As more bars, restaurants and clubs stretch their alcohol licences later into the night, Bournemouth’s thriving nightlife is showing no sign of saturation – and the economy is lapping it up.
New upmarket venues are sprouting up all over Bournemouth town centre building on the 24 hour drinking model made so successful on the continent. While many UK cities have been a little slow to dive in, perhaps fearing lack of late trade or social problems, Bournemouth does not seem nervous at all. Licensees are requesting extensions, the council are granting them and tills are getting fuller.
For Bournemouth’s economy the benefits are easy to see. The so-called ‘night-time economy’ is responsible for nearly 33% of Bournemouth’s takings according to recent figures. In the face of increasing competition, joining this sector might appear a perilous venture but those applying for alcohol licence extensions seem unphased.
The newly refurbished Eden Cafe and Bar on Terrace Road has just been granted a four hour extension to its alcohol licence from Bournemouth Borough Council and has applied for more flexibility in live music, previously restricted to a pianist. Issues of noise and anti-social behaviour don’t seem to concern manager Ben Flewitt. His focus seems to be clearly on the income: “we could put live entertainment on at six or seven but no one comes here then,” he explains. “There is a new way of drinking now.”
Eden Cafe and Bar is not alone. A wave of extension requests have recently been submitted to the council for review. The Old Inn at Holt in Wimborne have applied for a live music licence while new restaurant Lomo Tapas, set to open on November 1st have asked for a midnight alcohol licence.
With momentum for the night-time economy showing no sign of weakening and a range of initiatives to help start-ups, budding bar or restaurant owners may have found the right town. Outset Bournemouth is a Bournemouth Borough Council initiative which helps entrepreneurs get their ideas into action. Enterprise adviser Paul Scadding says originality is important: “It’s very expensive, the rates are extremely high and remember there is already a Cafe Nero and a Starbucks… but if someone has a good idea – and it isn’t already in Bournemouth – then yes, it could work.”
Bournemouth’s thriving night-time economy means some bars are open late into the night, but there has not been the extent of public outcry one might have expected ten years ago. “Doesn’t really bother me,” says Bournemouth resident Linda Erlington, 47, “you always get a few idiots in the street, but just as likely at 7pm I suppose.” Colin Matthews, 51 has an apartment close to Bournemouth town centre. “I think as long as I don’t have to live next door they can do what they want,” he says.
If opposition remains scarce new start-ups in this crowded sector could count the cash for some time yet. Shopper Eileen Mae, 44 says it’s not as bustling at night as people say: “I’ve lived here 11 years and I cant see there being a market here in the winter months. I think Bournemouth plays on the late thing, but most pubs seem quiet on weeknights.”