Comments for en-gb 30 Tue 22 Jul 2014 20:00:28 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at DibbySpot Better idea close down the bars in Parliament and go for a standard price per unit of Alcohol. If the poor cannot afford it tough they can brew their own.We cannot stop good law just because it affect one particular group in society. Mon 03 Jan 2011 14:41:35 GMT+1 Jack "Only a few hundred bars and clubs had applied for the 24-hour licences and even these were rarely used". I think you make a very good point, Mark. I live in London, where as the capital city, you would think there would be loads of pubs open 24 hours, but there isn't, so I don't see how 24 hour drinking can be blamed for Britain's so called "binge drinking culture". There are very few bars and pubs in London that are open 24 hours, which for me is a real disappointment. I wish local authorities would have embraced 24 hour licensing laws by issuing more 24hr alcohol licences, then we would have been able to see if we could change the drinking culture in the UK. The only benefit that I've had from the 24 hour drinking laws is being able to buy alcohol at night from my local supermarket and corner shop. I didn't even know that they were allowed to sell alcohol 24 hours a day until the end of last year when I found a website dedicated to 24 hour drinking which lists all 24 hour off licences in London. I think this is the biggest problem, most places didn't apply for 24 hour alcohol licences and the ones that did don't seem to publicise it so not many people have been able to make use of the 24 hour alcohol laws. I wish people would stop trying to blame British drinking culture on 24 hour drinking, they are two completely separate things. Why should night workers not be able to buy alcohol at a time that suits them? Apparently most fatal car accidents happen at night but that doesn't mean we make it illegal for anyone to travel by car at night. We should have the freedom to live our lives as we wish. Thu 23 Dec 2010 15:31:03 GMT+1 Euforiater Can somebody please take a look at 22 again? I can't see how it broke the rules. Thanks. Sun 19 Dec 2010 16:20:17 GMT+1 Euforiater This post has been Removed Sat 18 Dec 2010 11:35:00 GMT+1 Peter_Sym "17. At 10:13am on 03 Dec 2010, McD wrote:Legalise cannabis and all these alcohol-related problems will gradually evaporate"Why?You presume that everyone who drinks alcohol will suddenly give up the booze and turn to cannabis instead. I wouldn't (don't like the taste of smoke) and while Holland has less problems with alcohol it doesn't have no problem. I got trapped in a bank by a 1000 drunken PFV Eindhoven fans a few years ago.... not fun. Mon 06 Dec 2010 11:50:30 GMT+1 news_monitor Quote: "The Licensing Act 2003 has had terrible press but no-one is demanding a return to the old days."Re: the last bit: I suggest you do a little accurate research prior to making remarks like that, Mark! I think you'll find that a large majority of sensible, socially-conscious drinkers would agree with me, too! Sun 05 Dec 2010 21:41:38 GMT+1 Paul I grew up in Lancashire in the 80's, then moved to Surrey in the 90's. What I can say is that the Cram them in, Drink as much as possible on a Friday and Sat night has existed in northern towns for generations. On moving south, there were absolutly no large pubs like this. I found it very hard to actually find a pub in cities like Guildford or Reading, let alone the smaller towns. That completly changed in the 90's/early 2000's, with the conversion of Banks etc to large pubs. I think people need to differntiate between large cities and towns, which inevitiably are full of young revellers, and small towns and villages, with an older crowd and traditional pubs.I think their is a place in our society for both. So we must somehow ensure the smaller traditional pubs survive (which comes down to keeping prices low), whilst allowing people to still drink (sensibly) in the large city centre chains (which means increasing prices). I think it is all very price driven. Fri 03 Dec 2010 14:50:25 GMT+1 Peter Hood Labour forgot gradualism - if indeed it ever understood the concept - and was carried away with its one true love, Social Engineering. These people do not deserve a space in the house. We need another third party. Fri 03 Dec 2010 11:30:42 GMT+1 McD Legalise cannabis and all these alcohol-related problems will gradually evaporate, British culture may progress to a more advanced - even better than a 'cafe culture' - level and everything - police, prison, crime, money, greed, public and private health, relationships - everything - will be much better. Really. You'll see. Stop worrying; it's not much longer now. Fri 03 Dec 2010 10:13:25 GMT+1 MrBe Too many idealistic people here. The problem isn't in legislation, nor is it anything to do with councils lack of ability or willingness to use their power. The problem lies solely in the people and our culture. In the last couple of decades, the binge drinking culture has had a facelift or two, but remains fundamentaly the same. Whereas in the 80's and early 90's it was considered a "Mans Game" to go out and get blotto, and get into a tussle in front of the bouncers / police. It then shifted and became more trendy for women to do the heavy drinking and more often then not, it was the women who would be involved in the fighting, if not actually fighting themselves, instigating it. Now we are in the limbo situation where there is some sort of competition between men and women. For a very long time we have lived in a self indulgent culture when it comes to drinking. Until peoples attitudes change, or at least mature towards the levels of alcohol that is considered appropriate, nothing will ever change Fri 03 Dec 2010 09:51:13 GMT+1 Persona_Non_Grata Has the BBC resorted to reporting fractions of the story?To understand the binge drinking culture in the UK we need to take the 24 Hour Drinking laws in context of the wider deregulation of the alcohol business. (The same was planned for Gambling, Gordon Brown's only positive legacy was to put a stop to that folly).We should also remember the debate at the time - Drink related charities and religious organisations with a long history of working with social problems, specifically alcohol related problems (The Salvation Army and the Quakers) urged the government to listen to their experience and advice and reconsider the deregulation.Tony Blair arrogantly proclaimed 'People have Changed'.Britain's Vomit covered High Streets are evidence that they have not.To claim Blair's Drink laws are entirely in tune with those of the current government is fudging the issue.The mess of Britain's Binge Drinking and all the social problems that come with it are squarely and undeniably the result of the last government's twisted thinking and failed policies. Thu 02 Dec 2010 23:28:05 GMT+1 PaulF How about this as a suggestion to help reduce drunkenness and violence? What about a state imposed cull of public houses and clubs? With government blessing, close a huge swathe of licensed retailers near important business areas, therefore providing no facilities whatsoever. It could also target those individuals with a large amount of disposable income therefore more of an inclination to got out drinking.I know, a little draconian, but it would solve the problem. Okay, why should those who drink ‘responsibly’ be totally banned from their favourite tipple? So, I suggest the state take over some of the more successful pubs and directly employ the managers and staff of such establishments, therefore ensuring that all the new rules can be fully adhered to. And how about this for reducing irresponsible drinking? There could be a total ban on buying ‘rounds’. A patron can only buy a drink for their own consumption and no others. And the whole current hoo-ha about alcohol strength can also be addressed. It will be ‘state beer’, brewed in its own brewery, so it can be the taste and strength of cat piss! And being state owned, it will be An additional measure could be to limit opening hours to say, 11am till 3pm and 6pm till 10:30pm. Maybe 11pm closing on Friday!It can work - trust me!Okay, hands up. This is not an original thought, but a paraphrase of an ‘experiment’ staged in parts of the UK 90 years ago. The outbreak of the First World War also saw the launch of the country’s biggest munitions factory on the Scottish border, between Carlisle and Gretna. Employing 25,000, whole new town areas were built, but most migrated to Carlisle. With so much work available, it attracted a huge amount of single people who also had a massive impact on the licensed premises in the area. Drunkenness and violence convictions jumped four fold within 24 months. And that is just the convictions and relies of documented report and police at the time able/decide to make an arrest.The problem attracted so many negative headlines and it appeared that Carlisle was just an example of a disease spreading at a time when the country was at war, that Westminster decided action was needed and under the Defence of the Realm Act in 1915 launched the Central Control Board (Liquor Traffic) in an attempt to control drinking habits on a national basis. The first ‘control’ was the regulation opening and closing times of public houses, which were in place until 1988, when the Tory Government of the time repealed the law, in favour of ‘all-day opening. But it wasn’t just pubs that were affected, all off-licences were revoked and a ban on advertising. PM of the era, David Lloyd George, in a bid to curb trouble, which was mooted to be having a negative effect of the war effort, agreed to take control of all licensed premises in an area of 320sq miles in and around Carlisle. Within 12 months not only 40% of pubs were forced to close, but all off-licences were too. Alcohol advertising was banned, even to the point that alcohol bottles could not be placed in windows. Some even claim this ‘experiment’ was the precursor to American’s even more drastic prohibition.Prices were fixed, so not competition issues and no other forms of encouragement of ‘chasers’ or ‘treating’ fellow customers to a drink. And all the beer was brewed by a state-owned brewery. Believe it or not, statistics wise, it was seen as a success. Police convictions dropped from 1000 to under 100 in 24 months. This main experiment lasted until 1921, where the ‘State Managed System' came under the auspices of the Home Affairs and Secretary of State for Scotland. Certain restrictions were lifted including round buying, as well as the beer improving in quality and strength. Even the pubs themselves were restored and refurbished.By 1950, the Labour Government  at the time wanted to replicate the scheme nationwide, but when the Tories came in the following year, they pulled the plug. Saying that the Carlisle experiment of a state monopoly lasted 55 years and turnover figures suggest it was a profitable state success.My point? Despite what others say here, it is more a cultural challenge for society which is far more difficult to change. Violence and drunkenness is nothing new in the UK. 100 years on and we are still looking how to curb it - surely highlighting just how difficult it is.My concern is why government want to impose a late night levy on those providing night time entertainment, where some of the problems are drawn from 'pre-loading' before any of them hit the high street? In comparison, Pubs and Bars are far more regulated in alcohol retailing than a supermarket, yet the alcohol consumption accounts in pubs and bars account for only 30% of sales. Thu 02 Dec 2010 09:03:33 GMT+1 LCJ We are worsening the social damage due to alcohol by eroding laws and customs that controlled and educated drinkers.When I was a young person we crept into pubs underage and then we acted as adult as we could to avoid being chucked out. The pubs were small and local so with a mixed age group who woudl put us young'uns in our place if we disturbed them. There were public bars for people in work clothes who wanted to stand at the bar and chat with mates and saloon bars to sit down in.The rise in property prices led to many small pubs being coverted to houses and lost - the cheap drink from supermarkets led to many losing their customers and closing.The Supply of Beer (Tied Estate) Order 1989 led to the rise of cash hungry pub-companies who did everything to maximise money across the bar and hence drinking. However they also increased the number of managed bars and managers do not have the responsibility to the local community of a publican living above his bar and shopping in the high street. And finally the 2003 licensing act was so bureacratic it lost us more pubs and allowed thousands of patheric nimbies to buy a house next to a 300 year old pub then object to the licence renewal!All of these pressures have led to more drinking factories and less pubs. Meanwhile everybody has lots of booze in their house so their kids get stoked up before they go clubbing.Not really a surprise and as for the "cafe culture" - another blair soundbite = meaningless Thu 02 Dec 2010 08:49:42 GMT+1 ThoughtCrime #3, I think you're on the right train of thought there. When people are crammed into a bar it's nigh on impossible to talk unless you want to be bellowing right into someone's ear, you can't listen to them unless you want them bellowing in your ear, so all there is to do is drink. When your glass is empty there's little else to do but order another drink, and needless to say there's nowhere to put a glass down so it's always in your hand.It's also the first rule of dealing with a rioting crowd to disperse people so they have a little more personal space, as it makes people feel less hassled and less aggressive. So what we have created in this country is a situation where people can't hear, can't talk and are hemmed in like cattle. Then for good measure we threw lots of cheap booze into the mix, and wonder why it turns sour so often.I'd definitely support your ideas of a cafe-style license with table service only and no standing with alcohol - if there are no free tables new customers wait for a table to become free. Whether such a cafe could make enough in profits without charging prices nobody would be willing to pay is another matter. Wed 01 Dec 2010 22:20:40 GMT+1 Turbomonkey I cannot help but think that it is the temperament of the general drinking public that is the main cause of alcohol problems in our towns and cities, people only get drunk because they want to. Addictions aside, it would be better to address the root of the problem and develop strategies to license premises and I suppose develop our society and culture into one that does not promote such widespread drug abuse. It seems awfully hypocritical that alcohol is such a readily accepted substance in the face of the illegalised ones, countless studies have shown it to be one of the worst, if not the worst drug in terms of damage to person and society. So what is it that motivates people to readily accept and consume such dangerous fare?All these 'vertical' drinking establishments are only thriving because of the massive demand by customers for their services, for the sober they are a most uninviting prospect. No or little seating, loud music, cheap tasteless and strong drinks. Simply enough they are designed to maximise capacity and minimise the time you can spend socialising and talking rather than drinking.Its interesting to parallel the rise of this against the fall of places like student unions, working mens clubs, labour & conservative clubs and many other community institutions with bars as the focal point of their operations. The rise of telecommunications such as mobile phones and the internet in and out of work means that people have less of a need to meet in informalised settings and more importantly, less interaction face to face. I believe this serves to break bonds that hold certain groups of people and communities together, peoples social circles are not held in a physical regard but in some kind of digital middleground where actions can be carefully thought out, checked and reviewed. There is no need to go to a certain bar or cafe to meet people you know, they're just a text message away all day every day. This isnt the only reason for the fall in popularity of such places, but I do believe that it is a signifcant contributory factor, especially for places catering for the younger population.Everyone wants to physically socialise and alcohol acts as a convenient bridge between the fantastical online world and the real one, and it seems reasonable that because of this barrier between the calculated and spontaneous becoming greater, there is a fear of meeting people acting sober, its like real personalities can't measure up to the ideals of perfect individuals that advertise the products we buy and have the lives we always want. Advertising fuels the fires of these deep seated insecurities in our minds, but is not the cause of these problems. It is the desire to get away from the stress of normality and become the confident person that everyone is, but fails to exercise that is a likely cause of the desire to drink to destruction. Wed 01 Dec 2010 18:25:39 GMT+1 math I agree with a lot of what Eddie says above.The vertical drinking bars are, in my opinion, the significant contributors to the problem. Stopping people from standing and making them sit around a table would surely mean that there were less instances of conflict between groups. Equally, it would reduce the number of customers and so should lower the noise making for a calmer environment. Waiter service would be needed because you wouldn't want people hanging at the bar.The problem is the large bar owners who have fought to twist modern English drinking culture into the monster it is now. They will not want any such changes and, without the councils having the powers or the will to enforce existing powers, things won't change.Drinking hours have nothing to do with it. Wed 01 Dec 2010 17:34:08 GMT+1 Michael M As somebody that grew up in the UK, lived in the Netherlands for five plus years and then moved back to the UK into the centre of Sheffield I agree that there is no real 'Cafe Culture' here in the UK. We have a 'Drunk Culture' instead.In the Netherlands Cafes are places to sit, enjoy the conversation, maybe have some small snacks or a meal. Alcohol is drunk - if you drink it that is - from niche producers that might be owned by Monks or a large conglomerate: few care. The amounts served are generally smaller at around the 1/2pint size. There is no pressure to 'Drink, Drink, DRINK!' this being for losers and foreigners. Everything is served at your table - which it is accepted you and your companions hire for the evening if you want. Almost never will you find 'buy one get one 1/2 price' drinks promotions the assumption being that taking 2E off the price isn't going to stimulate demand rather reduce profits.Compare this to the problem pubs and bars here in the UK that this article describes (forget the traditional 'local pubs' it seems- these aren't objectionable enough to be worth writing about). These want as many people in drinking as much as possible of a few very, very limited lines of drinks which can be served quick-quick-quick in a scrum by the bar. Usually there is stupidly loud music playing so everybody has to shout and get really close (which is helpful to initiate Contact with partners I presume) or just sit round and SMS each other (have seen this and laughed: why bother going out?).Likely the British model is model is very profitable. After all the problems of health, public disorder and street cleaning are conveniently not the responsibility of the those with a share price to maintain/raise.In the UK market for the 'Continental Cafe' style of living is present but it is serviced by the Coffee Shops - that don't serve alcohol. Wed 01 Dec 2010 17:27:15 GMT+1 gavroche Both article and posts are full of cliches and fantasies. It is absurd to single out Britain as having problems with drink and incivility: this is a familiar refrain in countries like France which you idealize, and which, statistically, are much bigger consumers of the Devil's Brew. 'Cafe culture' basically means petit-bourgeois tedium and repression. Can people please explain what is intrinsically wrong with excessive behaviour, and why so many people like to escape their Year in Provence idyll to warm themselves up in a crammed Nordic pub? Wed 01 Dec 2010 17:20:52 GMT+1 BobRocket Cafe culture can't happen in the UK where local councils are making the streets 'Alcohol Free Zones' drinking on the street, where are these cafes going to put their tables to create the culture if they are not allowed to serve alcohol.A bit more joined up thinking before enacting legislation wouldn't go amiss and would help to solve most of these unintended consequences before they happen. Wed 01 Dec 2010 17:19:03 GMT+1 YorkshireKnight In my view things are marginally better than they were prior to the change in legislation when many of our provincial towns were terrifying places to be when the pubs shut at 11pm on a Friday or Saturday night. This certainly doesn't mean things are much better but at least it means slightly fewer drunks on the streets at one time. It remains depressing that for a significant percentage of the population the most excitement in their lives involves getting "wasted" from alcohol at the weekend. Wed 01 Dec 2010 17:10:04 GMT+1 John Ellis Interesting blog Mark.Been arguing about some of this today with people, most have a personal view and can't see outside their own social habits that are culturally ingrained from the age of 5 onwards with alcohol mixed down to shandy's and spritzers in order to make them a responsible drinker.Or is it just to ingrain a culture of abuse that is accepted as it is all we know.The problem lies in cheap off licences and promotions and as you said the stand up pub, were intoxication as fast as possible is generally put into practice before moving to a club. Ill be meeting the local authority licencing some time next week to discuss the problems of cheap alcohol and the so called night time economy, maybe minimum pricing wont work but something has to be done be it a local community tax of around 3-7% of total alcohol sales of the establishment or a mass revocation of unenforceable licences that have been granted to just about anyone with a shop and a spare shelf. There needs to be fiscal responsibility as well as social responsibility when it comes to the control of alcohol some form of link needs to be reestablished to counter the overindulgence that is seen as normal behaviour, let alone the physical and health costs to the drinker and their children. Wed 01 Dec 2010 17:03:32 GMT+1 captain_sensible Afraid that any plans for 'cafe culture' in the UK are doomed to failure, or at least for a long time - and that's ignoring the fact we tend not to have the weather for it! Let me give you an example...I spend a fair amount of time in Majorca and I assume a lot of people are familiar with the names of Palma Nova and Magalluf? What many may not realise is that the 2 towns / resorts are right next to each other (about 1/4 mile apart) but the character of the 2 is wildly different. In Palma Nova you can sit enjoying a quiet relaxing drink or two in a cafe bar on the prom at 2am in the morning and feel perfectly safe in doing so - but that doesn't apply to Magalluf! Why the difference? Magalluf is full of gangs of young Brits (male AND female), whereas in Palma Nova they are almost completely absent!My point? You can try changing the culture all you like but it'll get you nowhere until you work out how to change the people.... Wed 01 Dec 2010 17:03:30 GMT+1 Eddie Some of the problem is in the terminology.When I enjoy the café culture in mainland Europe, I get a totally different experience that when I go for the same in Britain.At a café in France, Belgium, the Netherlands or Spain, Greece or Italy - I go in, find a table, sit down and a waiter comes to me. When I want another drink, I signal the waiter, who comes over, retrieves my glass, and goes away, then returns with my drink. We have a few bars like that here in Edinburgh, one fortunately close to my work, and I tend to select this one for my aprés-work drinks, on the rare occasions I go for a drink after work. On the times I go to the others, they are like wonderful oases in a desert of noisy, seething, sweaty pits. There is no standing, there is no queuing, and, in my experience, less frustration - and it's this last aspect that probably contributes most to the different atmosphere between Britain and the mainland. In my opinion, this is the difference - not the flexible licensing hours, we've had them in Scotland since the '80s and it made very little difference - that is, again in my opinion, a convenient red herring - there is a totally different culture in the cafés on the mainland. The attitudes of the clientele are different, and the attitudes of the staff. Drinking is not the focus, socialising is the focus. In most pubs I have been to recently, they are far too noisy - not just from juke boxes, but mainly from the crowds, packed in like sardines to maximise profits, there are no seats, movement is difficult, the toilets have queues, and so on.Perhaps, instead of reviewing the hours, maybe we should review the licenses, and introduce a new class of license - a café license, alcohol for on-sales only, table service only, and issue a mix of bar and café licenses in an area, and see if we can obtain a culture change, not just time shifting our existing culture. Wed 01 Dec 2010 16:22:21 GMT+1 Science_PhD The most rapid change happens where people have the biggest motive. In this case it was the drinks industry to maximise profits hence the rapid expansion in fueling hedonism.Interstingly, a councils' willingness to use the powers they have is indicated as a problem. In my experience in dealing with a local pub that used to be a 'quiet family pub' with no issues which was then turned into a 'pile it high sell it cheap' place with regular violence spilling out onto the streets, it is not a willingness but an ability to put powers into practice that is the problem. Even armed with police records of attendance, multiple local witnesses, CCTV evidence etc all a local licencing hearing will do is impose minor terms and conditions (eg on advertising cheap booze, noise levels outside etc) to curb the behaviour. The landlords right to make money comes first and local residents concern a distant second. This is game is also supported by all the dodgy landlords using the same lawyer to represent them who knows every loophole/caveat/get out clause in the legislation which limits the ability of the council to impose strict terms and conditions on a licencee.Legislation often needs to be tweaked to get it to work in practice and cultural changes happen over generations not in the lifetime of a parliament. Wed 01 Dec 2010 15:34:22 GMT+1 Alisdair Matheson All very reasonable but incorrect. The Act never applied to Scotland where we have just put in place a new licensing regime and I'm not sure if it applies to Wales either. The post doesn't make it clear that it isn't in fact about "British High Streets". That's not to say we don't suffer from a similar cultural drinking den problem. More thought to the accuracy of your otherwise interesting blog. As ever law can be a very slow and inefficient means to change peoples' habits. Wed 01 Dec 2010 15:14:01 GMT+1