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Daily View: 24-hour drinking

Clare Spencer | 09:22 UK time, Friday, 23 July 2010

Commentators discuss drinking culture at the start of a government consultation on licensing.

In the Daily Mail Roy Hattersley calls 24-hour drinking "Labour's ghastly mistake":

"One man's right to drink himself into an aggressive frenzy denies another man the right to walk home safely. Freedom to drink into the small hours is often inconsistent with the freedom to enjoy a good night's sleep without the fear that some hooligan is being sick on the front door step or tearing plants out of the garden...
"A society which endorsed round-the-clock drinking is half way to accepting that such conduct, even though undesirable, is unavoidable. I am a very long way from believing that is so. England can do better."

Andrew Gilligan says in the Telegraph that preserving good pubs is the key to responsible drinking:

"Yet pubs are still, I think, the key to responsibility in drinking. They just have to be the right kind of pubs. We need to get back to the idea of drinking as a social activity in ordinary pubs, not getting off our faces in town-centre booze factories, because a sensible social setting is a check on the worst excesses of drinking...
"The most important part of the proposals trailed yesterday is not about licensing hours, but the plan to end the sale of shop alcohol at below cost price. That is something we must tackle if we are to save the British pub, and remove alcohol from the pocket-money range of Welsh schoolchildren."

Paul Routledge says in the Mirror that the Tories would be right to ban 24-hour drinking:

"This is one New Labour mistake worth rectifying. It was the brainchild of James Purnell, who has now quit politics, having trashed our public spaces with his daft ideas of 'continental drinking'."

The Independent editorial says reform to the licensing hours which allowed 24-hour drinking was long overdue:

"Reform to licensing hours was overdue. The old fixed drinking times were not a venerable English tradition. They were imposed in the First World War, to herd people home early so that they could rise at dawn and be in the munitions factories on time. It is true that Labour's changes did not lead to a much talked about 'continental' drinking culture taking root here. In retrospect it was foolish to raise such expectations. The British pub, the French cafe and Spanish tapas bar are very different species.
"In the meantime, the link drawn between the phenomenon of binge drinking, to which people rightly object, and more flexible licensing hours, needs questioning. A fruitful line of inquiry might explore the connection between excess drinking and the availability of very cheap alcohol in clubs and supermarkets. It might also be worth pondering why so many people in this country feel a need to seek total oblivion from their surroundings through alcohol."

Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Nick Bish points out in the pub trade's Morning Advertiser that nothing is decided yet:

"I am appalled by the Daily Mail. They are trying to take ownership of a consultation document and assuming it will all be passed through. Of course, we all know that the majority of places that have 24-hour licences are the supermarkets."

Links in full

Roy Hattersley | Daily Mail | Labour's ghastly mistake: The introduction of 24-hour drinking was New Labour at its silliest, says this party grandee
Andrew Gilligan | Telegraph | 24-hour drinking: Preserving good pubs will help our drinking problem
Paul Routledge | Mirror | Tories are right to ban 24 hour drinking
Independent | Oblivious to logic
Ewan Turney | Morning Advertiser | Licensing Act consultation to last six weeks

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