ALE Spring 2001 No. 301

Youth Drinking

Now that the Cambridge drinking circuit is well-established, it's time for a review of the situation.

A couple of recent events, as reported by the Cambridge Evening News, serve to illustrate the state of affairs.

Regent Terrace

The owners of the Regency Guest House, next door to the back patio and car park of the Prince Regent in Regent Terrace, have been abused by yobs and their property damaged. They say their customers are being driven away and they're thinking of giving up the business. Under-age drinkers gathering in the car park seem to be a major factor.

[Guest House & pub car park]

The pub's landlord was reported as saying it's due to passers-by (on the drinking circuit presumably). The argument went to the Magistrates Court in an attempt to block the renewal of the pub's licence or at least make Greene King put up a wall to limit access to the patio.

PC Peter Sinclair, the licensing officer, confirmed Police had found under-age drinkers there with alcohol which had not come from the pub.

Bulk Buying

In another article PC Sinclair was quoted as saying some pubs were putting profit before public safety by encouraging the young to binge, leading to a surge in public disorder.

"Their main purpose is to facilitate cheap bulk consumption by large groups of youngsters, who are encouraged to binge drink by way of happy hours and cut-price group offers."

He particularly criticised bars which concentrated on "mass volume, vertical drinking", by scrapping furniture to accommodate more standing customers.

"The obvious result is more drunkenness and an increase in the potential for disorder."

He quoted Home Office figures:

"It is disturbing that some retailers appear to place a much higher emphasis on profit, rather than public health and safety."

Binge Study

A timely study, the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD), was announced a few days later and widely reported.

For instance the BBC News Online report [follow-up] says that nearly 30% of the sample of 15- and 16-year-olds said they had been drunk at least 20 times in their life - a quarter said they had been intoxicated three or more times in the past month.

It goes on to report an Alcohol Concern spokesman: "Drinks such as alcopops are targeted at young people because they're sweet and often young people don't realise how much alcohol is in them." Also World Health Organisation director general Gro Harlem Brundtland has condemned alcohol companies for aggressively marketing their products to young people.

What are they thinking of?

All this shows that the related phenomena of circuit drinking and binge drinking are becoming a menace, with the planning, licensing and enforcement authorities as yet taking little effective action.

Councillors welcoming yet another youth venue bar (like the McMullens) look increasingly out of step with reality.

The next section follows up on these points and reviews the Regal after 18 months of operation.

ALE Spring 2001 No. 301 : Next section
Cambridge & District CAMRA