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Is it time to scrap 24-hour drinking?

...and put it all back the way it was?

Published on March 25th 2010.


Is it time to scrap 24-hour drinking?

THE SCHIRROSIS statistics, the violence, the anti social behaviour... It ain't looking good.

Instead of having a mass of people ejected onto the streets at 11pm, which is what the 2003 act sought to address, in city centres like Liverpool the cabs are coming in full from out of town

How wrong could Tony Blair's vision have been (OK, we admit he's got form) when he tore up the wartime licensing rulebook and gave the great British public people a chance to sample life in a 24-hour, continental style cafe society”

How very civilised we would show ourselves to be, just like the French and the Italians, enjoying a swift Ricard at the local wine bar, with a Gitaine (because you could back in 2003) before heading off to the kebab shop and home.

Here's what the 2003 Act actually said on extended drinking hours. “This flexibility is intended to minimise public disorder resulting from standard closing times whereby many intoxicated individuals are all ejected onto the streets at once, come 23:00, as well as encouraging less of a binge-drinking culture.”

Cheers to that, we all said. We knew how to behave. Goodbye, killjoy barman in a packed pub of punters sounding last orders at twenty to eleven. Ha! We didn't work in munitions factories any more.

Yet, we have soemhow woken up to one big headache.

This week's budget slapped a whacking great hike on cider, especially sparkling. Presumably this was to slow down the Diamond White brigade but it has left West Country producers unhappy – not to mention The Wurzels and the cider fans up and down the land who, arguably, help keep alive that dying institution, the pub, as the main venue in which to indulge their scrumpy fix.

There is also 10p on a bottle of supermarket wine and 36p on a bottle of spirits to protect us from ourselves. But is this enough? After all, if we believe doctors and the police, many weekend revellers now knock back a dozen units at home before unfurling the hair curlers and heading out.

So instead of having a mass of people ejected onto the streets at 11pm, which is what the 2003 act sought to address, in city centres like Liverpool the cabs are coming in full from out of town.

And what about the other end of the day? JD Wetherspoons is to open from 7am next month and, while they say they like to promote responsible drinking, it is definitely not unknown for drinkers to start putting it away in there from 9am..

Gordon Brown, after big talk at last year's Labour Conference about introducing measures to regain some control of the problem, has proposed that bars have a downtime between 3am and 6am.

But is it enough? Should we put it all back the way it was?

Yes, that's right: Assuming British people are incapable of handling booze without getting hammered, should we reintroduce 11pm closing for most bars and pubs and nightclubs 2am? In fact, why not go even further and put the shutters down from 3.30pm to 5pm again. It would sure make the area around daytime Slater Street smell better.

Or is that a terrible idea? Is it, after all, merely a few spoiling the party for everyone else? Do you, perhaps, work “unsocial” hours and/or do you embrace the chance to enjoy a tipple anytime you bloody well want?

Is educating people to respect alcohol, with no frontiers, the way to a better, more enlightened society.

Or something else again? Go on, go on! Vote on the Homepage!

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