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The Vote: Is it time to scrap 24-hour drinking...

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

Published on March 25th 2010.

The Vote: Is it time to scrap 24-hour drinking...

THE cirrhosis statistics, the violence, the anti social behaviour... Eee, you could be reading the Daily Mail here.

But we promise we're not going to go into a rant about binge Britain. We have all, ahem, had our moments - and let's say from the outset, we were all mildly chuffed around here when when Tony Blair tore up the wartime licensing rulebook and gave us a chance to sample life in a 24-hour, "continental style cafe society” right here in Blighty.

And the Happy Hour. One pub in Kensington for example, was last week advertising its own version. For the princely sum of £1 all their cans of lager were only £1....wait for it...from 9am to 1pm. So what exactly does this tell us? It's never too early to get slaughtered, and never too expensive?

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 Gitane (because you could back in 2003) before heading off to the kebab shop and home.

But how wrong could Mr Blair's vision have been (OK, we admit he's got form).

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.”

Yes, we could all do that. 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, somehow we have 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 Mangers 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 handful of units at home, a cheap livener, before unfurling the hair curlers and heading out, late, to the more expensive bars..

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 into town full at that time, not taking people home.

What about the other end of the day? JD Wetherspoons is to open from 7am next month and, while they say they won't be serving booze until 9am, there will definitely be plenty of takers.

Then there's the happy hour. One pub in Kensington, for example, was last week advertising its own version. For the princely sum of £1 all their cans of lager were only £1....wait for it...from 9am to 1pm. So what exactly does this tell us? It's never too early to get slaughtered, and never too expensive?

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 have a gene that makes them incapable of handling booze without getting hammered, should we now take the bottle gently from them? Reintroduce 11pm closing for most bars and pubs and nightclubs 2am. Why not go even further and put the shutters down from 3pm to 5pm again. It would sure make the area around daytime Slater Street smell better.

Or is that a terrible idea? Is this merely a few people spoiling the party for everyone else? Do you, for example, work unsocial hours and embrace the chance to enjoy a tipple after work, or for that matter, any time you bleedin' well want?

Is educating people to respect alcohol, with no frontiers, the way to a better, more enlightened society? Can it happen?

Go on, go on! Vote on the Homepage!

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

Carole KingMarch 25th 2010.

It's too late

steveMarch 25th 2010.

you know you've made it when you get quoted in Liverpool Confidential! mines a pint

AnonymousMarch 25th 2010.

No, I say we leave it and all these feral little beasts will drink themselves to death or fall under a bus soon enough

Streets of shameMarch 25th 2010.

I see that Merseyside Police are now hosing people down with water canons to stop pissheads pissing all over the streets at the weekend. If that doesn't make the Daily Mail I don't know what will

Late night toperMarch 25th 2010.

The question is far too limiting. We're never going to stuff the genie back in the bottle as far as opening houirs are conmcerned: as Carole King says, it's too late.But is it time for a review of the way things have gone in the last six or seven years? Probably yes, but I doubts if we will get any sober (pun intended) debate this side of the general election, and precious little chance after. I fear we'll just have to live with it until something goes horribly and visibly wrong, like a drink-fuelled riot along Lark Lane/Allerton Road/South Road/Middle England street of your choice. And then there will be emergency legislation to a Daily Mail agenda, and heaven only knows what will happen.

Paul CollinsMarch 25th 2010.

History tells us that you can stuff the genie back in the bottle. Britain traditionally is a nation of drunkards, from the Dark Ages on. We cannot drink responsibly in this country and all-hours drinking was only stopped during the war. The Germans are also irresponsible though not on this scale. You will never educate the people of this fair isle to behave like their continental counterparts. The weather is one reason why.

Gill DrinkerMarch 25th 2010.

So because some antisocial scum make a party piece of not being able to hold their drink the rest of us are to be punished?Just enforce the EXISTING law - it is ILLEGAL to serve alcohol to someone who appears to be already drunk.Just lock the ba****ds up - it's what we pay our taxes for.

Trending topicsMarch 25th 2010.

A lot of people don't appear to be drunk until they hit the fresh air and someone looks at them the wrong way - or they fall over a kerb. Then there is wholesale mutilation. BASTARDS!!!!

Veronica KnickersMarch 25th 2010.

People have always been allowed to have a glass of wine with their meal and always will be Linda. But I would hazard a guess that any poor tourist finding themselves in Mathew Street or Concert Square after midnight on any weekend would want to come back in a hurry. Not that this problem is confined to Liverpool

Stella Hart-WahMarch 25th 2010.

I have seen men so drunk they could barely stand in Wood Street at dinnertime - it must have occurred to the barman who served them that the slurring, glassy-eyed slob in front of him might have been drunk.I have also seen a man sitting in an expanding pool of his own urine having fallen over as he left this establishment, again at lunchtime. This doesn't happen after serving a couple of pints to a sober man. The police ought to crack down on barmen who serve customers already so drunk they are a danger to themselves and everyone else.

SeanMarch 25th 2010.

I saw human poo this morning

TourmanMarch 25th 2010.

What I miss is the stay behinds, those furtive late night drinking sessions when the people who were not favored by the Manager had left. Now that you can drink any time all that fun has gone. I want the old times back and I want them NOW.

WappingMarch 25th 2010.

Isn't it still illegal to serve alcohol to someone who is intoxicated? If it isn't then that's the problem, if it is then perhaps a constable should pop in for a word with the licencees of the places where drunks get drunker, explaining the posirtion, like.

DigMarch 25th 2010.

I do apologise for urinating and having a poo in the street. If you've been to the toilet in Woodies you'd understand.

Mick TurateMarch 25th 2010.

Never mind cutting back, I think we should extend 24 hour drinking.

Hik16March 25th 2010.


JoanMarch 25th 2010.

My staff and I clean up vomit, piss, poo, bloody needles, spit, half eaten kebabs, pizza toppings, broken glass, used sanitary (!) items and much, much more on a regular basis from the doorways and even windows of our building because we are in the "golden triangle" around Berry Street, Bold St & Slater Street - golden being the colour of cheap lager...We are really tired of it, believe me.It's too late for the poor sods sat in their own urine wondering how they've managed to spend all their giro in a few days, but we could plan for the future and try and educate a new generation to enjoy a night/day out without needing to be paralytic all the time. At the moment, our world really is seen through a glass darkly...

AnonymousMarch 25th 2010.

There is nobody to educate anyone about the ugly mess of getting off your face. I agree about the ropewalks. Now that Christians has been removed by the council and Tesco's there is another nice big empty area for people to shit in

HotsyMarch 25th 2010.

It's a deadly game. Have a few drinks and go home

AnonymousMarch 25th 2010.

think of the poor landlords . Not all of them make enough money to hire help - most pubs are empty most of the time - and they're closing down faster than new ones are opening. 24-hour licensing has done no-one any favours. There is a limited amount of money to spend and a limit to how much people can drink and a vast majority of what is spent goes back to the govenment in taxes. Go figure.

Proper DrinkerMarch 25th 2010.

Why should they want to "hire help"? A good landlord who runs a tight ship is an asset. I'd rather spend my time and money in his pub than in some dump crowded with screaming, swearing, shouting, lurching imbeciles attracted in by the big screen footy.

Broken BritainMarch 25th 2010.

Doug, you are completely right on this. These paid pundits shouldn't even be discussing pubs. This debate is about the mess of city centres and yet nobody is saying it was a mistake. I am not particularly well educated but the last time I drank late on a Saturday night in the city centre, I tried to help a student who was being beaten up by a gang and I got my jaw broken. No more

piss up in a breweryMarch 25th 2010.


Broken BritainMarch 25th 2010.

It WAS the police

Laura NorderMarch 25th 2010.

In too many Liverpool 'bars' it is considered sufficient to put bouncers on the door to throw the troublemakers onto the street, but the spotty young bar staff still serve anybody and everybody who comes to the bar in whatever state.

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