PUBS and clubs in Scarborough could be closing earlier if a voluntary pilot scheme goes ahead.

More than 30 licensees attended a meeting on Thursday at the Royal Hotel to discuss the controversial issue.

The meeting was organised by the Safer Communities Partnership, which includes representatives from Scarborough Council, North Yorkshire Police and North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Services.

It followed concerns from licensees that few people benefited from the late opening hours, as it had meant people coming out later and drinking more alcohol at home.

One of the aims was to discuss ways in which the night time economy could be stimulated to encourage drinkers to come out earlier and make the town centre more welcoming during the evening.

The idea was also put forward for a voluntary reduction in opening hours, run as a pilot scheme, whereby:

l pubs and bars would close at midnight on Sunday through to Thursday, and at 1am on Friday and Saturday.

l nightclubs would close at 2am Sunday to Thursday and 3am on Friday and Saturday.

l casino premises to stop selling alcohol at 4am.

One of the licensees in attendance was Paul Murray of Vivaz in Huntriss Row, who said he was doubtful that many people would want to close earlier.

He said: “If people did agree to it, it could work. But the problem will be trying to decide who is a pub and who is a club, because the boundaries have become so blurred.”

Organisers are keen to hear their views on the proposal.

They are also asking for suggestions on how to attract more people into town earlier in the evening. The decision as to whether a pilot will go ahead is expected within 10 days.