Away fans are welcomed to Chorley as a new proactive approach is planned following '˜ban' U-turn
Town centre bosses in Chorley are due to meet on Monday in the wake of a football fans '˜ban' controversy.
Chorley Council has now backtracked and said away fans were welcome into town on match days after a storm of protest over a letter sent out to clubs.
The letter, from councillor Danny Gee, chair of the Town Team, stated that travelling away fans would not be welcome in town for Saturday daytime matches due to the affect it had on local businesses.
But the council said comments in the letter had been misinterpreted and that well-behaved fans - respectful to the town and its other users - were welcome to Chorley.
And the apologetic authority is even looking at new proactive measures to improve the situation and ensure everyone has an enjoyable time.
Councillor Peter Wilson, deputy leader of Chorley Council, said: “The letter from the town team was borne out of frustration from traders that on certain occasions a small minority of unruly football fans were deterring shoppers on busy shopping days.
“The way the letter was worded was wrong as we do welcome football fans, the vast majority of which are well behaved, add to the atmosphere and contribute to the local economy.
“It was perhaps a case of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut but we are now keen to find a solution to a longstanding issue that will improve things for traders, shoppers, football fans and anyone else wanting to enjoy our thriving town centre.”
The Town Team has a meeting scheduled for Monday and the issue will be discussed.
The authority has already moved to look at ways things can be improved including:
Introducing town centre ambassadors to welcome everyone to the town and assist in managing any busy areas.
A coach booking system for football fans so demand can be managed.
Putting in themed events to add to the atmosphere on Saturdays.
They will also meet with football supporter groups who have offered to help come up with solutions, and both the licensed trade and the police, to help everyone enjoy the town centre together.
Councillor Danny Gee, chair of the Town Team and who sent the original letter, said: “I apologise that the letter came across as not welcoming football fans who are well behaved and add to the atmosphere in town.
“Traders have been regularly raising concerns about the behaviour of some fans visiting the town and it is those who aren’t going to respect our town and other visitors using it that we do not welcome.
“I hope the discussion this has created will lead to a solution that will end any problems we’ve had and we can continue to look forward to the improvements in the town centre that will bring in more visitors going forward.”