Call time on 24 hour drinking

I am pleased to see the coalition government is to tackle the problems caused by the Labour party’s introduction of uncontrolled 24 hour sale of alcohol. Plans include proposals to make licensed premises pay for the cost of anti-social behaviour and violence their premises cause. Local councils will also be given much more power to control the numbers and extent of licenses issued.

As an ex-member of Test Valley’s licensing committee I can say with some experience this is long overdue. The 24 hour licensing laws, claimed to allow a continental style cafe culture in the UK, were in fact no more than a sell out to Labour’s supporters in the drinks industry allowing them to boost sales with no thought of the consequences. Local licensing authorities are almost powerless to prevent anyone anywhere from selling drink with no thought of the consequences to local communities. The rules are so heavily weighted in favour of licencees the committee merely rubberstamps applications.

I have been on patrol with police in Andover on Friday nights and seen the results – drunkeness, violence and vandalism extending into the early hours of the morning. And the bill is met by local residents who pay for the police overtime and for the council workers who clear up the mess afterwards. No only is the town centre blighted so too are every route out of town used by late night drinkers on their noisy and often destructive trek home. Meanwhile the drinks companies rake in the profits.

Enough is enough. I have no objection to late night drinking as such but uncontrolled sales of alcohol and the resultant crime and disorder it promotes must be stopped. I fully support the Association of Cheif Police Officers and the Police Federation in their calls of a review of the licensing laws and look forward to it being and an early review.

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