FOOTBALL fans were able to enjoy England's match against Croatia on Sunday with a pint outside after there was a U-turn on the Council's decision to suspend to pavement licences.

Earlier this month Council bosses told businesses that their pavement licences would be suspended two hours before, during and two hours after the match.

But the plans were scrapped following uproar from hospitality owners and Council leader David Greenhalgh.

John Wray, owner of The Venue on Churchgate, spoke out about the decision at the time.

On Sunday, fans gathered at socially distanced tables outside the pub to enjoy the game on a TV screen.

John said: "We're pleased with the decision to keep the pavement licences.

"It creates a much better atmosphere when people are able to drink outside, it's how the town centre should be.

"It's a positive step in the right direction."

Manager Dawn Mcguinness said: "The U-turn has been great - we need as much help as we can get.

"It's a lovely atmosphere today and people are getting used to being out and about again, it's definitely needed after everything we've been through.

"People feel safer sitting outside too.

"Events like this make a massive difference - we've been running at 40per cent capacity with social distancing."

One customer sat outside, Emma Greenhalgh, said: "It's wonderful, it's part of your social life being able to sit outside, especially after being locked up for so long.

"I would rather be outside on a day like this, you can't keep people locked up anymore.

"People's mental health has been terrible during this and you can't keep bringing in new rules.

"We feel very safe here, especially after the vaccine.

"When he heard about the outside seating ban we were furious actually, not only for us and stopping people's fun, but you're going to damage these businesses as well even further.

"They need this business, you've got to let them have outside seating otherwise we'll lose these places."

Another punter said: "It's absolutely lovely to be sat outside, it's the jewel of the crown to be here.

"Fresh air, the sunshine- it's great.

"It would've been a very bad decision to not be able to sit outside."