Wednesday, February 09, 2005

You can't please some of the people all of the time.

On the one hand, Labour is regarded as being anti-libertarian when it protects the health of poorly-paid bar staff alive by banning smoking in their workplaces or stopping the upper class ripping foxes to pieces for pleasure.

On the other hand, when it allows elected local authorities to take decisions about when bars should open in their area, it is encouraging the binge drinking culture.

You really can't win.

Anyone would think that the Labout Party's manifesto will include a commitment to get the whole country sloshed twice a week on alco-pops (but at least we don't advocate lowering the drinking age to 16, eh Charlie?).

Now, licensing committees composed of your elected councillors will make decisions about when bars and clubs in your area can open their doors. In Glasgow, this has meant that closing times have been staggered (like the clientele), so removing one of the flashpoints for violence - thousands of inebriates all hitting the streets at the same time and struggling to get into clubs for the last couple of hours of drinking time. Perhaps this will be the start of a more mature relationship with alcohol for the nation.

I doubt very much that many publicans will want to apply for 24-hour licenses and those that do will find that strict conditions will be imposed. Pubs and clubs can now be made more financially responsible for policing the results of their business - the principle of 'the polluter pays' in action. There will be more opportunities for interested parties, like the police, to put forward their views when licensees put in applications.

More of a chance for local involvement in local issues or the government encouraging the demon drink?

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