TOWN centre pubs and bars have welcomed a council U-turn on a controversial decision to ban the use of outdoor seating during England Euro clashes.

The Bolton News exclusively revealed yesterday that the order to suspend the pavement licences, which allow people to sit outside of bars, pubs and cafes had now been reversed.

The move to stop people sitting outside led to an outcry and was described as yet another blow to the hospitality industry by owner of the popular The Venue Bar in Churchgate.

Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi also called on the local authority to reverse the decision to help the industry and stop fans from feeling as they were being 'criminalised'.

Now John Wray, owner of The Venue has welcomed the council's change of heart and said it bode well for the future, with the council and the hospitality industry working together.

The bar was planning for the tournament before the letter arrived and Mr Wray said it was a huge knock to the trade.

He said: "I am very pleased with the decision, it means that England games can be the event they should be.

"It will make a big difference to the hospitality industry which needs all the help it can get and Sunday is set to be the nicest day of the year so far, so I am pleased the council did take time to talk to us and take another look at it and once they had it did not take them long to make this decision."

Mr Wray said by working together the council and the hospitality industry can explore ways of building up the industry beyond lockdown.

Ms Qureshi said: "It is a huge victory for common sense. It made absolutely no sense to ban outdoor seating areas.

"I wrote to the Bolton Council Chief Executive, Tony Oakman, earlier in the week to express my concerns about the impact on business and how it would make the town less safe so I am pleased they have changed their minds."

Cllr David Greenhalgh said: "Earlier this month, a letter was sent to businesses asking them to remove street furniture for two hours either side of England’s games during Euro 2020.

“While this letter was sent with the best of intentions, myself and colleagues were not consulted before the decision was taken.

“As soon as I was made aware of the letter, I asked the team to immediately review the matter.

“As a council, we know how hard the pandemic has been for the hospitality sector here in Bolton. This decision is a result of the council speaking directly with venue owners and is testament to the strong working partnership we have with local businesses.

“A major sporting tournament is a great opportunity to increase footfall and bring people back into the town centre and I am sure both fans and business owners will act responsibly and follow the latest guidance."

England kick off their group matches on Sunday with a game against Croatia. They then play Scotland on Friday, June 18 and the Czech Republic on Tuesday, June 22.