Owners of Birmingham's bars, clubs, hotels and restaurants were today counting the cost of Saturday's unprecedented evacuation, with some estimating a bill that would run into millions.
Alan Sartori, owner of Broad Street?s Rocket Club, said while they did not question that the police had intelligence to warranted the evacuations, many businesses would struggle if mass emptying of premises became a regular occurrence.
At about 7.20pm on Saturday night he was told by police, staff should search the premises and then evacuate it. Staff and customers were let back in after an hour, then later police swept down Broad Street from the Hagley Road end telling all premises to move people away from the area.
?People want to know exactly what was going on, but they accept the police were working in the interests of the general population,? said Mr Sartori. ?It was very professional and well orchestrated and compared to losing lives or business, there is no argument.? He said the cost of it would be ?incalculable? and he would be meeting traders throughout the week to determine the impact of the move.
?I?d like to think people having tabs open they would return and pay them but with human nature being what it is, we?ll see if that happens. I would put the loss of revenue at millions. If we enter a phase where this happens regularly, the cost will be enormous. I?m a small business and I?m not in a position to soak this up - it could break you.?
Clifford Gravers, general manager of the Hyatt, said the hotel had been three quarters full and the sub-sequent loss of business would be ? very significant?.
Gary Taylor, director of Argent Group, saw 30 cafes and bars being evacuated at Brindleyplace.
?We?ve just got to get on with it,? he said. ?If there?s one thing we?ve seen in London over the past few days it?s that this sort of thing doesn?t change our way of life.?
John Lamb, spokesman for Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, estimated the cost of Saturday night?s city centre evacuation at not less than #1 million. But he was optimistic the event would not put people off coming into Birmingham for a night out. ?I would hope it would have the opposite effect,? he said.