BOLTON town centre's reputation of being a drinkers' playground could become a thing of the past under new plans.

It is proposed to make the centre more attractive for families to visit.

Measures will include:

  • Minimum alcohol prices
  • A dress code to enter bars
  • Taxi marshals
  • Temporary road closures

The changes were announced after licensees, door staff, taxi firms, CCTV operators, Bolton Street Angels, police and Bolton Council joined forces to come up with ways to attract more families and older people to the town centre in the evenings.

The group says there is still a place for revellers but want the town centre to appeal to all ages.

Steve Hoyle, vice-chairman of the group, and owner of Down Town in Bradshawgate, said: “We on Bradshawgate, Churchgate and Deansgate want to be noticed again. We seem to have been left alone.

“A lot of the bar owners have competed against each other in the past but the competition isn’t there now. We want to get it back and change Bolton for the better.”

The partnership hopes in the future to be in the running for the prestigious Purple Flag status, which recognises excellence in the management of town and city centres at night.

Its work will involve members committing to a number of improvements to help revamp the town during evenings, particularly at weekends.

There will also be an agreed code of conduct. Members will update each other at regular meetings.

This weekend will see minimum prices introduced where each drink must cost a minimum of 75p per unit— shots containing a small amount of alcohol are not included.

Taxi marshals have been introduced to ensure people are brought in and taken away from the town safely on a Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays — the town’s busiest nights.

Bolton Council will be piloting road closures during the evening in Nelson Square in the coming months.

Music events, comedy nights, and activities around the World Cup are planned.

Events will also take place to build on the success of Ironman and the Food and Drink Festival.

Asif Vali, chairman the partnership and Bolton Taxi Company Association, said he is confident the town centre will see huge improvements.

He added: “We want the town to be a vibrant place. We want people to come into town early and go home safely. There are great outlets outside of the town centre but Bolton is a hub, let’s make it a great place. There’s an amazing amount of stuff that happens in Bolton town centre.

“We want to make Bolton a safer, more attractive place to come in the evenings for a wide variety of residents including young people, older people and families. We hope that by each partner in the group committing to take action to encourage safe and responsible drinking, as well as the introduction of new events and activities, that Bolton town centre will offer something for everyone in the evenings.”

Some town centre bars will serve food during the day up until about 8pm.

Adrienne Tonge, from Bolton Street Angels, said working together as a team will be a benefit as the group of volunteers can work with door staff to ensure women can get home safely. She said Bolton Street Angels would also benefit from advice from door staff on how to deal with conflict.

Supt Mark Bell, for Bolton police, said: “My first experience of Bolton when I came to work here last year was how passionate people are about this place.

“I am sure the work will change crime levels. I think introducing the dress code will get rid of the bad element, challenge 25 for people who look under 25 will mean people have to bring identification with them and an element won’t want to be identified.”

Tony Lloyd, police and crime commissioner for Greater Manchester, said: “I talk about partnership working a lot, but what I really like is to see it in action. This is exactly what’s taken place in Bolton with this groundbreaking new project.

“We all have a part to play in ensuring the success of Bolton’s night-time economy, from public bodies like the police and council to the licensees and taxi firms whose livelihoods depend on the town being an attractive place to visit.

“Too often when talking about the night-time economy it develops into an “us and them” situation, when the reality is that we all have a stake in ensuring our town and city centres are vibrant, exciting and welcoming. This is real innovation, and Bolton is leading the way.”

Cllr Derek Burrows, cabinet member for community safety and police, added: “We hope that all these partners working together, with the support of the police and council, will offer something new that encourages all types of people to come into the town centre in the evenings.”

The plans are the latest in a number of schemes announced which will breathe new life into the town centre.

Yesterday The Bolton News revealed images of the planned transformation of the historic vaulted basement in the Market Place shopping centre.

Owners of the complex Moorgarth have applied to transform the Victorian vaults on the bottom floor of the centre into restaurants, bars and shops.

It ties in with plans to create a nine-screen £15 million cinema in the Market Place.

What the action group plans for the town centre

Many of the changes have already been introduced but will include:

  •  Pubs and clubs have vowed to enforce last entry 30 minutes before closure, staff to wear uniforms, enforce an appropriate dress code, banning tracksuits and hoodies and request identification from drinkers who look under aged 25.
  • Irresponsible drink promotions will be banned and alcoholic drinks will have a minimum price of 75p per unit.
  • Free drinking water will be provided at all times
  • A tough stance will be taken against drunken people.
  • Taxi marshals have been introduced to arrange safe escort home for vulnerable people and to ensure people leave the town safely.
  • Marshals will stop illegal picking up of fares, illegal parking and with link all major taxi firms with the radio used by pubs, clubs and door supervisors.
  • Bolton Council will be installing improved lighting, improved CCTV and introducing temporary road closures in Nelson Square and support events in the town.
  • Police will continue with enforcement and will identify issues at monthly meetings and deploy extra staff for events.