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The council are forcing Fallowfield’s bars to close early

It’s the government, man

When the closure of Fallow Cafe was officially confirmed this month, everything felt strangely out of the blue. No real reason was given, and the cafe stayed silent beyond a cryptic Facebook post.

But now, one possible explanation has emerged. In what's been described by one business as a "purge on Fallowfield nightlife", a number of bars have been discovered operating within reduced hours, following regulations by the council implemented late last year.

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RIP Fallow

One victim, The Font, agreed to speak with me about how the changes came about. A member of The Font's management team disclosed that in late 2017, the popular student bar had received notice from the council of a “historical planning condition" related to their site. They were told to shorten their business hours and have since been forced to close as early as 11:30pm on weeknights.

To accommodate the change, The Font’s sprawling cocktail menu has been considerably shortened, and the bar has even moved its famed happy hour deal an hour earlier. The Font's representative explained that “there just isn’t the time” to serve its customers anymore, as students "are still getting ready to go out when we're calling last orders".

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The Font's new menu

Whilst it’s difficult to know just how many will be affected, The Font estimates that around eight other Fallowfield businesses have also received a notice. The Manchester Tab asked another popular bar, Revolution, for comment on what had caused the change. They confirmed that the council had reduced their operational hours, telling us that the reason "is a sad one for Fallowfield as an area. The local council have attempted a purge on Fallowfield nightlife as a tactic to move students towards the city centre, reducing operational hours to 1am."

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Vive la Revolution

It's not clear why the council have chosen to suddenly unearth a previously ignored planning condition. Revolution's speculation of "a tactic to move students towards the city centre” might sound like a conspiracy theory, but there's mounting evidence to support it. The ruling may have contributed to Fallow Cafe's closure and is most likely responsible for Antwerp's fall from grace, which has seen the Rusholme club banned from operating past 11pm.

Notably, the decline in Fallowfield's bars and local businesses hasn't managed to affect its rent prices, which have been steadily rising for the past few years. As a consequence, many students are said to be moving towards the city centre, as Revolution suggests, or else the cheaper outskirts of Withington and Moss Side.

Intentional or not, it's clear the council's actions have already begun to have a negative impact on Fallowfield's nightlife, and its businesses rightly feel they're not being given the full story. The Font is attempting to return to its later opening hours. Hopefully, theirs and others' attempts will be successful.

Two Fallowfield councillors have been contacted for comment. At the time of publication, they have yet to respond.