A WORCESTER nightclub boss fears a host of social problems could be forced underground if the night-time economy is allowed to collapse.

Alexander Fell, owner of Alexander’s Nightclub in New Street, Worcester, argued the industry had been “left hanging out to dry” by Covid-19 restrictions and a lack of support from government.

It comes after a warning from a group of 40 MPs today that many nightspots and music venues will not survive the pandemic without urgent government intervention.

Their report revealed 85 per cent of people working in the night-time economy are considering leaving the industry and 78 per cent placed on furlough at some point since March 2020.

Mr Fell said the industry was best placed to manage social gatherings and should be seen as part of the solution in planning a return to nightlife.

Labour MP Jeff Smith, a former DJ and chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Night Time Economy, said city centres would become “ghost towns” without action.

While Worcester MP Robin Walker, a member of the Government, said he was pushing for support of the hospitality sector.

Mr Fell said: “We’ve been left hanging out to dry.

“I wonder if there is reasoning beyond what we get told?”

“The night-time economy is a strain on some resources.

“One thought I had was whether they were enjoying this.

“We have had no real help or correspondence from the government and I don’t see how anyone can survive being closed for this long with rent and bills to pay. It is such a shame.

“We are in a fortunate position where we can just sit and wait but I know other people who can’t.

“If there isn’t immediate intervention then there will be a very thin night-time economy post-Covid but still a very big demand.”

He added that nation will have been starved of nightlife for probably two years by the time things got back to normal.

But there was hope on the horizon.

He said: “If you look at places like New Zealand, there has been a huge influx (towards nightlife) so it will be really interesting.

“Biologically we are hardwired for connection, we are social creatures and even during this lockdown you can see by the number of fines dished out that people continue to socialise.

“If you don’t intervene and help the venues that are set up for these social needs, it is just going to happen elsewhere.

“I think we are best equipped to deal with large social gatherings if you think of the rules and regulations our industry has to follow with door staff, first aiders, licensees and training on alcohol, which is a dangerous controlled drug that kills one in 20 people.

“This industry is the most heavily regulated when it comes to serving it. Supermarkets can sell a bottle of vodka for £10 with no real aftercare for those who are drinking it, in our industry there is a duty of care until every person has gone home.

“People will continue to socialise and drink and while the industry might be a headache sometimes, it is probably the safest place for people to get together.”

On the solutions he would like to see, Mr Fell added: “There has to be some sort of financial backing alongside a concrete plan to reopen so we can plan and be in position.

“Lots of people have put lots of provision in place only to get closed two weeks later so a plan that gets stuck to is what we need.”

City MP Mr Walker said the hospitality sector had been hit the “longest for hardest”

He said: “This is a part of the economy which is, unfortunately, hit hardest for longest, and we are all looking forward to the government’s plans to “unlock” the economy on Monday.

“I have made calls on behalf of a number of Worcester businesses, so in that respect am always happy to hear from them.

“The nighttime economy is one which has been hit hard, so I am continuing to raise it with more ministers.

“That being said, as we still have a number of cases, it may be some time before they re-open fully.”

Meanwhile, Mr Smith, MP for Manchester Withington, said: “Our world-leading nightclubs, pubs, bars and live music venues are cornerstones of our communities.

“They drive so much economic activity both locally and nationally, and bring hope, joy and entertainment to millions across the UK.

“Our findings today reveal this industry is on its knees, in desperate need of additional support from the government and a concrete plan for reopening.

“Without these interventions many of these viable businesses will go under, leaving city and town centres resembling ghost towns.

“If the government is serious about its levelling-up agenda it must act now to save this sector and avoid untold damage to the social fabric of this country.”

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said Covid-19 has had a “devastating impact”.

“Every day I speak with the dedicated people that make up this industry – from artists to engineers, bar staff to security, and production to promoters – they have shown great resilience in the face of adversity,” he said.

“But resilience only gets you so far without the required support.

“We need more assistance and a detailed plan for reopening now, otherwise much of what defines a night out in the UK will be lost forever.”