Licensing Reform

Published on 17 November 2005 in , , , ,

Isn’t interesting how so many people are anti changing our licensing laws, usually citing the issue that there’s drunken violence, vomiting and so on in town centres.

And yes, that’s true. We have a really bad drink culture in the UK, not helped by the fact that we’re so nannied about it, and that children are kept away from it like it’s some forbidden fruit.

But there’s one fact every politician, every newspaper, every critic overlooks.

Nine times out of ten, the pubs that are currently causing the problems have late licenses already. Stopping the licensing reforms won’t cause a single change to the hassles that the police have to contend with because the problem is there now and won’t change.

Yet because my choice of pub isn’t in a town centre, doesn’t cause hassle, doesn’t encourage binge drinking, doesn’t play loud music, I can’t responsibly have a drink after 11. Unless I do it illegally in a lock in. Yes, I have to break the law, just so I can drink a pint after 11pm without causing the police a single problem.

So politicians, stop simplifying the issue. Stop nannying me. Treat me like the responsible adult I am. Yes, fine, crack down on the pubs and bars which cause problems. I have no problems with that. When I used to live in Ealing, I used to hate walking round the town centre after 10pm on a Friday. It was horrible. Please sort it out with my blessing.

But don’t tarnish the responsible drinkers – the ones who know how to behave – with the same brush as the prats who throw up and have fights. We’re not children. We know how to behave. And behave we will.

For comparison, back in the 1988 the critics were in outcry. Opening pubs all day would cause more alcohol abuse. More hassles. More disorder. Obviously. Which is why, according to an article on BBC News Online today, alcohol sales fell for the next five years.

With any luck, we’ll see something similar with alcohol-based violence. Stop forcing people to congregate in town centres, in noisy, busy pubs just so they can have a pint after 11pm. And maybe they won’t all congregate in town centres, and they won’t cause so many problems.

Of course, that’s too radical a concept for the doomsayers. Indeed, I’m surprised the Daily Mail’s hacks haven’t been calling for prohibition itself. Whilst no doubt, swigging a few largers whilst they type that demand….