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City centre boozing: all gone horribly wrong?

Police at breaking point, but why should council taxpayers have to fund night-time patrols in town?

Published on December 20th 2010.

City centre boozing: all gone horribly wrong?

THERE was something quaint about listening to the ring of a bell and your favourite landlord uttering those famous words, ‘last orders gentleman please’. Then there was that 10-minute drinking up period.

If the drinks industry fails to respond to the challenge, the city centre’s night-time economy will wither and possibly die

And as we threw back the last drop of draught Guinness beforeheading off into the night, we envied our European cousins, boulevardiers who enjoyed free-for-all boozing. Parisians in cafe societies, Barcelonians in late night bars.

We’re in the EU and if it’s good enough for the Latinos, it should be good enough for us, said Tony Blair.

Welcome to the world of cheap shots and round-the-clock boozing.

Now we are paying the price for the liberation of licensing hours, and its blood n’ booze out there on the streets, with the Royal the eventual destination for many.

It’s become so bad that right after “Mad Friday”, Merseyside Police are saying there should be a halt to more bars, pubs annd clubs being granted licenses in the city centre. I guess it’s better late than never.

The number of assaults in the three main gathering points – Cavern Walks, Rope Walks and up in Hardman Street – have risen by almost 20 per cent in just two years. In places like Lark Lane and Allerton Road, where similar restrictions have been put in place already, the crime figures have gone down.

And despite assurances from the Coalition government that cuts in police budgets will not affect front-line policing, the local constabulary aren't convinced and say they are at breaking point come the weekend.

The booze economy has become one of Liverpool’s major industries and we probably rival Blackpool as a stag and hen location for brides and grooms having one final wild night out. Ask any serious partygoer in the North West which major city they would prefer to play out in, and the answer is nearly always Liverpool.

Just a few years ago Liverpool was boasting how safe it was as a night time destination, and indeed the Duke of Westminster even said how his own daughter preferred the safety here to other cities.

Yes the city is still relatively safe, but that distinctive edge Liverpool always had as a port city appears to have become more edgy. Something has happened in the past few years to change the dynamics of the night. The party atmosphere apparent not so long ago has also changed.

It’s a combination of cheap supermarket booze and more social drug taking, a few little liveners at home before ordering that taxi into town - with the bars and pubs adding that final wow, or wild factor, to the weekend equation.

The remedy depends on action from the council as well as the bar owners themselves. The police will be unable, with diminishing resources, to do anything on their own.

We’ve seen the introduction in Liverpool of Business Improvement Districts with city centre businesses all paying a levy to help promote the place.

We should see a separate levy on bars and pubs with the proceeds going towards paying the police to patrol the key areas. Why should the stay-at-home majority of council taxpayers have to foot the bill for policing the city centre at night?

As well as anti-social behaviour we are also seeing more robberies and muggings. If the drinks industry fails to respond to the challenge, the city centre’s night-time economy will wither and possibly die.

If that happens, can we go back to a more sedate 11pm closing time and the return of that friendly “time, gentleman please” bell sending us quietly to the last bus?

Or have we passed the point of no return and has that way of city centre life now largely gone to the wall?

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17 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousDecember 20th 2010.

Liverpool's booze culture could wither and die. Nice one, best news I've heard in ages. Sooner the better. Let the louts stick to their suburban sprawls and leave the city centre for the more cultured folk like me.

AnonymousDecember 20th 2010.

The thing is anonymous. Liverpool, whether you like it or not, is a massive night time destination for people from all over the North Weest. Ask the more evolved Mancunians where they would rather go for a night out and it's a no-brainer.

Well, after 15 vodka martinis it's certainly a no brainer. The city needs that revenue stream. At the moment, realistically, it's one of the best things it's got going for it.

Lord CharlesDecember 20th 2010.

It's all about the Police utilising their resources in a manner that will curb anti social behaviour before it starts.
Instead of having groups of bobbies and mounted Police giving out parking tickets on Duke Street, they should be walking around trouble spots maintaining a high profile.
I'd also be interested to know at what time the increase in assaults is happening, preventative Police work is all about analysis of data and good planning.
Thats what is needed, not a change in the law.
God... I need a drink after that!

Liverpool WagDecember 20th 2010.

Lord Charles, I hope you aren't driving drunk people about in this weather? And how easy is it getting a cab to go up the top of the hill by LIPA tonight. Or should I stay in? I have already blown out my night of 12 cocktails twice....

Lord CharlesDecember 20th 2010.

I'm thinking about going out to work. I think they've installed a ski lift for the hill now!

GoodDayzDecember 21st 2010.

Yes, the good old days. I remember when Kirklands started the revolution in Hardman Street with, was it Bernie Start. In those days to enable later drinking (well till midnight anyhow) they had to provide you with food. So Kirklands served the most beautiful bread, baked I think by the next door bakery, with pate and a big knob of butter. It got around the law stating substantial food had to be provided if drinking beyond normal closing time was to be allowed. We'd all go home happily fed and watered, thanks to Kirklands. Others saw the success of Kirklands and the rest, as they say is History, or should that be Pistory.

Bernie StartDecember 21st 2010.

True dat.

DigDecember 21st 2010.

Liverpool has become so popular as a destination that even Rafa Benitez is on holiday here at present. Must be nice to have a holiday home here to get away from Milan now and again. He must be here on a skiing holiday.

ADDecember 21st 2010.

If there are more people than ever coming into the city centre and more people living there than ever then it follows that there will be more crime, especialy in a recession where there are more people hard up and getting desperate. So to blame bars and drink for the increase is pretty lame - just atacking an easy target for the sake of an easy cost saving. It smacks of a lazy use of a handy statistic.

Any levy won't fall on the bars it will fall on the customers - most of whome are well behaved - why should they be the only ones to pay for more city center police?

Arthur GuinnessDecember 21st 2010.

The problem now is that the old spirit of the Liverpool pub has gone. The landlord would refuse to serve people who were already drunk and would throw customers out for swearing and bad behaviour.

These days the new ‘bars´ will serve anyone with money in their hand no matter how obviously wrecked they are and thanks to the smoking ban the badly-behaving drinkers are allowed to spill out onto the streets, whereas traditionally they were kept inside the pub with the doors closed.

It´s not the extended serving hours that is the problem, it is irresponsible bar managers, many of whom look barely eighteen themselves.

SoftieDecember 22nd 2010.

How about Tom Brewster for elected Mayor of Liverpool. He'd sure clean the place up. Brewster played the lead part in a b/w cowboy series, Tenderfoot (Sugarfoot in the US) and on his crime-busting exploits he only ever drank sarsaparilla when he entered the Saloon Bars. Imagine that, another first for Liverpool, the country's only 'Prohibition' city. Yeah, bring it on.

Oxton OswaldDecember 22nd 2010.

The bars of Birkenhead would thank you for that, Mr. Softie.

(Though the ferries would have to change their ridiculous habit of finishing at 8pm!)

Betty TurpinDecember 22nd 2010.

Your traditional pub was run by professional staff who did it as their occupation, early retirees fron the Forces or the police, or sportsmen. Their staff were long-serving and members of thelocal community.

Pubs these days are too often staffed by transients, students or young graduates filling in time as they look for their dream jobs in in marketing and PR. They don't really give a damn about the image of the trade or the customers they serve.

that'smrbollockstoyouDecember 22nd 2010.

Although later licensing has got a lot to do with it, two other factors have also come into play.
First, beer monsters stoking up at home on 20 cans of nicely priced supermarket rocket fuel before going into town, having one pint and a Wiked in a properly licensed establishment and then kicking off big stylee at the new witching hour of 2am Sunday morning.
And two and/or adding to the literal powder keg by snorting copious amounts of very available cheap Colombian Marching Powder.
Over 40 years ago, even arch drugs bananahead Jim Morrison warned his best mates that the one Evil One out there was cocaine and to leave it be.
And so it has now come to pass.
Snow is all around.
Merry Christmas.

Jack WalkerDecember 27th 2010.

Ah, but Mr. Bollockstoyou, such people would never have lasted in a proper, traditional Liverpool pub,

Antisocial types swearing, shouting or playing the arsehole would be warned and if they failed to heed the warning they would have found themselves on the pavement outside sharpish.

that'smrbollockstoyouDecember 30th 2010.

Absolutely.I bow to your wisdom.
And how's Annie doing?
We need the likes of you back down here to give them a good, long, Corrie-style barring without the fear of subsequently getting firebombed.

Dennis TannerJanuary 4th 2011.

I'll have you know that I was at least once (perhaps twice) barred from The Cracke - hard to believe I know looking at it's present clientele - but I never burned it down. That would have been evil.

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