ALE Spring 2005 No. 317 : Next section

[Campaign for Real Ale logo © CAMRA]

Licensing '24-hour' & Binge Drinking

In January and February there was a media frenzy about the prospect of "24-hour drinking" and its impact on the existing binge drinking plague across the country. The BBC in particular ran a lot of coverage about the problems of policing and of related issues such as the impact upon Accident & Emergency departments.

However "24-hour drinking" is a myth

The one case where a 24-hour licence might be issued is for a large 24-hour supermarket.

Possible changes to hours include:

Extensions for special events - whether national or local - may work differently and the details are not yet clear. For instance it's possible pubs will have to anticipate their needs at the start of each licensing year, rather than apply as each occasion arises.

One aspect of the new licensing regime which hasn't had much coverage yet is the effect on a pub's rateable value. This value is based on its trade as of several years before. So if any pub increases its hours significantly, presumably bringing in extra trade, after a few years its rates will rise.

Another aspect not discussed much so far in the national media is that is ought to be easier for pubs to admit children legally. Britvic, the Family & Parenting Institute and the British Intitute of Innkeeping have launched the Web site to help pubs be family-friendly. It offers advice and helps promote family-friendly pubs.

Binge Drinking

Meanwhile there's a view that binge drinking should be seen as more of a dietary/health problem than a licensing one.

Those that binge are usually downing drinks such as cheaply-made UK lager and fruit-flavoured and sweetened alcohol, all encouraged by pricing, environment & promotions favouring huge volumes.

In contrast, an all-seating, multi-roomed pub, with a range of high-quality drinks, with little or no music to drown out conversation and no price/volume promotions, is rarely the cause of any trouble.

Returning to multi-roomed designs for pubs would also permit an effective separation of smoking and no-smoking areas, arguably making an outright smoking ban unnecesary.

Alcohol Disorder Zones

The Government has been consulting on proposals for Alcohol Disorder Zones in town centres, featuring fines and naming & shaming for premises deemed to be responsible for disorder.

One of the most controversial aspects is a special levy on businesses to contribute to policing a zone.

Trade bodies seem to prefer existing local & voluntary measures, typically partnerships with the Police and others, which have had some success.

As an example, in December the first annual Camsafe Awards were handed out as part of a partnership involving Cambridge City Council, the police and licencees to reduce drunken and disorderly behaviour. The winners were "B" in Market Passage, The Bakers in East Road, Ballare Nightclub in Lion Yard, The Corner House on Newmarket Road, The Hopbine in Fair Street and Life Nightclub in Sidney Street.

However the Cambridge Evening News recently spent a Friday night out on patrol with the Police and found the Drinking Circuit still bad and that violent, drunken behaviour is spreading rapidly beyond the traditional problem nights of Friday and Saturday.

ALE Spring 2005 No. 317 : Next section
Cambridge & District CAMRA