TOWN centre streets could be closed in a bid to boost business for bars, pubs and restaurants affected by reduced capacity during the coronavirus crisis.

Bolton Council could shut Churchgate and Nelson Street on afternoons and evenings in the coming weeks – but final details have not been decided.

The local authority is also encouraging businesses all over the borough to apply for pavement licences so bosses can consider closures elsewhere.

Council chiefs have promised to cover the cost of all applications by using a £1.25m package aimed at helping town centre businesses in the pandemic.

John Wray, who owns The Venue Bar in Churchgate, said the move would make a “significant” difference by allowing more seating outside

He said: “Because we have social distancing, it takes our capacity down by as much as 60 to 70 per cent inside.

“People do like to sit outside. And it would probably add 30 to 40 per cent to the numbers that I can already cater for.

“It will create a café atmosphere outside between all the bars.”

Mr Wray has applied for a pavement licence for his town centre premises and is expecting to hear back within 10 days. He is hoping the street will be closed.

He questioned why streets in Bolton town centre had not been closed sooner, as they have been in cities like Manchester, to make the most of the summer.

But Bolton Council explained that legislation allowing local authorities to accelerate the licensing process has only recently changed.

A council spokesman said: “We want to do everything we can to help the borough’s businesses bounce back from the impacts of coronavirus.

“The law has only recently changed and it will enable us to speed-up the process to hand out pavement licences.

“We are now welcoming applications for pavement licences from local businesses in the hospitality industry that want to temporarily increase their seating capacity by serving customers outdoors.

“We are also looking at potentially introducing closures in some town centre locations including Churchgate and Nelson Square which will enable businesses to use the highway for seating, making it easier for them to comply with the current guidance around social distancing.

“We will fully cover the cost of all road closures and pavement licence applications.”

To apply for a pavement licence, businesses can download an application form online by visiting

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