Thursday, 22 July 2010

Government to Roll Back 24 Hour Drinking

From the Daily Hate:-
A war on Booze Britain will dismantle Labour's failed 24-hour drinking laws and ban the sale of dirt-cheap alcohol.
Nice. Poor people have to pay more for booze. Bastards.
Ministers are to introduce powers to stem the drink-fuelled violence which has turned town centres into 'wild west' zones.
Town centres have not been turned into "wild west" zones or "no go" areas since 24 hour drinking. They were always full of pissheads, have been for 20 years.
They hope this will herald the return of the traditional pub, in which the public can drink without fear of assault or abuse.
Almost no trouble takes place in pubs. You have to go to the roughest pub in town to find a fight, which are rarely your young person's pub. The violence happens after the pubs kick out.
Crucially, town halls will be able to reinstate traditional closing times in areas where late-night opening, introduced by the last government in 2005, is causing havoc.
It's not causing havoc. Statistically, violence has fallen since 24 hour drinking was introduced. It's only at one period in the night that violence has gone up (around 3am), and that's a very small number of overnight alcohol-related crimes.
Labour had claimed that more relaxed opening times would lead to a continental-style 'cafe culture'. But ministers say this has been proved a nonsense. 
In future, bars that do stay open late will have to pay a levy to put extra police on the streets.
Alcohol duty more than pays for the health and policing costs, so it's completely unnecessary, and just a tax on people who want to drink later, for no other reason than because you can.
Supermarkets will be barred from selling alcohol for less than cost price. And pubs which sell drink to children repeatedly will be shut down.
I'd sort of assumed that that's why we have licenses. That people who repeatedly break the law get it taken away. But enforcing the law seems like a good idea, if it happens (I have my doubts).
Supermarkets began selling alcohol cheaper than bottled water, as stores used drink as a so-called loss leader to lure in customers.
That's bollocks. They sell the cheapest own brand lager for less than highly branded bottled waters. Compare like with like and they don't. And I doubt that Supermarkets actually sell booze at a loss (or much of a loss). You can buy the booze for sale in Sainsburys at the same price in their wine store, where you're only buying that booze, so it doesn't act as a loss-leader there.
But police warned it was falling into the hands of the young, who used it to ‘preload’, before going drunk to town centres.
Firstly, supermarkets are very hot on selling to the young. It's the last place that young people go because they know that they'll probably get asked for ID. Secondly, you can't preload on the cheap Tesco Value Lager 2% pisswater. By the time you get to town, most of it is out of your system.
Some retailers are likely to protest, but officials said they had the chance to behave responsibly and did not take it.
They won't protest. The government has just legislated the price to cost. They can get richer without fearing competition so much.
Rank-and-file police say the combination of late opening and ‘pre-loading’ has stretched their resources to breaking point, warning that some town centres have been turned into the ‘wild west’.
Stretching their resources to breaking point? The 3 or 4 coppers I see out in the Town Centre every Saturday night? How many police do you actually have?
‘The Government believes that the power to make licensing decisions needs to be rebalanced in favour of local communities, so that they can decide on the night-time economy they want.’
Which would go about as well as Pickles' housing plan - in other words, no-one would want any clubs near their houses.
Labour had made it hard for councils to refuse late-night licences. In particular, town halls could not refuse a pub a licence on the grounds that a street or town centre was saturated with bars and clubs.
This Government wants the situation reversed, in favour of councils fixing opening times. A bar could be turned down if homes were surrounded by pubs.
That's called competition. And what the hell else are you going to put in town centre shop premises now that the internet and large supermarkets have wiped out so many shops?
In some areas, locals could reinstate traditional closing times.
Which will simply bring back the old problem of hard drinking until 11pm, followed by lots of cold, pissed people waiting for taxis, and violence to follow.
The late-night levy would hit bars which stay open after midnight. Cash will be paid into a pot held by councils, which can plough the money into extra policing or improving life for nearby residents.
Or pissed away on their pet projects...
It is hoped the threat of ‘meaningful’ penalties which could run into thousands, will persuade rowdy pubs to change their ways.
We're going to penalise pubs for their drinkers? Which pub do you penalise when someone goes to 3 or 4 pubs in a night? The first, or the last? Pubs will just pay into the council's pet project fund and pass the cost onto drinkers.
Late opening accounts for about a quarter of the police’s £400million overtime bill.
Which is more than covered by the billions in alcohol duty.
Taxes will also be imposed on strong lagers blamed for problem drinking. Last night, Mr Brokenshire said: 'We will overhaul the Licensing Act to give local authorities and the police much stronger powers to remove licences from, or refuse to grant licences to, any premises that are causing problems.
And when you tax strong lager, drinkers will just switch to strong cider, spirits, whatever....
'We will toughen the sanctions for those premises found to be persistently selling alcohol to children and will allow local councils to charge more for late-night licences, which in turn will raise money for extra policing. We will also ban the below-cost sale of alcohol.’
Belatedly, Gordon Brown did acknowledge 24-hour drinking had failed. He ordered a review of the policy. But all it recommended was a three-hour reduction in opening times in problem areas.
That's not actually true. He called a review to address public concern, and to see if it was working.

It's a pity the government is going to reverse one of Labour's few good policies, while leaving the disastrous smoking ban legislation in place.

No comments:

Post a Comment