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Should it be last orders for cheap drinks?

Last night, revellers in Oldham may have had some cold water thrown over A-level results celebrations after the council banned one venue from holding its bash. The problem? Drinks promotions including buy-one-get-one-free.

As Panorama recently discovered when visiting Oldham for The Truth About Happy Hour, the council there are working hard to tackle binge drinking which it blames for a 200% increase in serious violent incidents in the first four months of this year. That's a stabbing or an assault with intention to kill on average every Friday and Saturday night in Oldham's main drinking area, York Street.

But Oldham's tough tactics, and Panorama's treatment of them, has drawn criticism in the blogosphere where the age-old debate over freedom from versus freedom to is raging.

Comments left on a libdemvoice blog launched straight in to defend freedom to, with one post saying "Anyone claiming to be a liberal should be denouncing these plans. The council has NO RIGHT to violate private businesses like this."

Another argued that one man's freedom can restrict another's saying, "What RIGHT do the businesses in question have in creating public disorder by selling alcohol at knock-down prices and then unleashing dysfunctional, drunk and violent people into the public streets?", asked another poster.

The very real dangers people face from random drunken attacks can be seen here:

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Accusations of a nanny state are made loudly on The Filter: "If you wish to nanny, expect children," he says stating that people like to get drunk. He goes on to argue that current licensing laws play into the hands of big companies and drink promoters by pricing smaller, independent establishments out of the market.

A Shaker blogger argues that not everyone is looking to binge and that in fact people are prepared to pay more for alcohol to guarantee a nicer atmosphere and better service.

Beer-pages acknowledges the variety of clientele who go out to drink defending traditional pubs and accusing Panorama of having "an obsession with binge drinking."

In any case, it is an issue that seems to have struck a chord with David Cameron who this week unveiled Conservative plans to curb late night binge drinking.


  • Comment number 1.

    Time for an honest look at the whole question of 'drugs'. If alcohol is so addictive, damaging and causes so much violence why is it legal at all? How many violent offences are 'cannabis related' for instance - other than by drugs dealers fighting over territory as gangs in the US did over hooch during the prohibition? This links to Raphael Rowe's piece on drugs in prison - if drugs were controlled but legally available (as valium is for instance) we would still have addicts, but would have much, much fewer drug related crimes, no pushers and no drug gangs (we don't have whisky gangs - we have Threshers and Tesco). The money that now goes into catching addicts who are robbing to feed their habit could be spent on education and rehabilitation.

    Do we have to wait until law and order breaks down completely as it did towards the end of Prohibition in the US for everyone to recognise that all drugs are dangerous, need to be controlled, but also need to be legally available. Buying poppies from farmers in Afghanistan and producing clean, pure heroin for the pitiful addicts might be the very first step in bringing sanity to the question of drugs.

  • Comment number 2.

    Considering legal highs will be banned soon because a handful of people have died, alcohol should be banned also, since it kills thousands and thousands each year.

    I completely agree with damcqueen above though. Not only should drugs of all kinds be legally available, but our current classification isn't even based on the harm that the drugs do. Cannabis is now in the same class as Amphetamine for example, while Ecstasy (which kills less people a year than paracetamol and is not addictive at all) remains a class A.


  • Comment number 3.

    I think you need to look at the root cause for alcohol abuse and the associated violence. This isn't just because of the low costs and 'bogof' deals. It also comes down to the strength of the drinks. A well known high street brand of lager, affectionately known as 'wife beater', has a stigma of violence attached to it.

    A lot of leading brands now providing low alcohol alternatives - which are around 4%. A clear indication that the companies want to shrug this bad image.

    There has been surge this Christmas with low alcohol drinks, especially in low alcohol wine. Not only are low alcohol drinks healthier, having a reduced amount of calories, they'll also help revellers avoid nasty hangovers!


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