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The Daily Mail was wrong as usual

Jonathan Schofield and how the world never changed with the extension in licensing hours in 2005

Written by . Published on March 4th 2008.


The Daily Mail was wrong as usual

Good, the long-awaited review of the Licensing Act 2005 which brought in potential round-the-clock pub and bar opening is published today. Overall, despite the terror campaigns against the extension by papers such as the Daily Mail and the MEN, it seems that nothing much has happened. According to the latest from Auntie Beeb, the report will reveal that overall there has been less crime (or a leveling off) so the horror stories were simply fiction.

To tackle binge drinking is a much bigger problem than later licensing, it goes far deeper than that.

More importantly, the Act has proved that treating adults like adults has resulted in a satisfying increase in freedom: now we can potentially drink when and where we want. This has been a freedom gained rather than one restricted: when did that last happen?

In any case, more license extensions have been in the nature of an hour or two here or there. On Friday and Saturday night that might be different, The Northern has potential to stay open until 4am, for instance. Strikingly though, not many places allow for 24 hour drinking: Confidential’s scratching its head to think of a single Manchester example.

The success will really piss off the new-puritans and their allies, the aforementioned Daily Mail, diverse middle-Englanders, sundry Christians and Muslims. Their argument against extended hours was always based on a larger prejudice which dislikes the commoners enjoying themselves on one side, and the relaxation of a moral code on the other. It was pretext for mouthing off about drink itself.

Any fool – even the above ones - can see that there is absolutely no correlation between the bizarre scenes on British High Streets on weekends and extended licensing. To tackle binge drinking is a much bigger problem than later licensing, it goes far deeper than that. There are a zillion ingredients in that particular punch: education, national character, history, opportunity, retail price wars. The big issue at the moment, teenage drinking has nothing to do with pubs and bars, not least because they don’t drink there.

And we all know this isn’t a new phenomena. It just seems worse, because there are more bars down High Streets - often badly run - there’s been more money about and drinks are cheaper and society is less cohesive. In the Munich memorial paper the MEN released, it was interesting to see in the small print in that 1958 organ, a little report from Oldham about the menace of female teen drinkers.

What perhaps we should do is look at the success of the liberalizing Licensing Act 2005 and work out what we can un-ban next?

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10 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Ale JohnMarch 4th 2008.

Hang on, aka Eugene. I work for a brewery and sell draught beer into pubs, etc, and am aware that beer volumes especially are depleted from this point about 4 years ago, by up to 25% in some areas and some types of pubs and bars. With more beer, alcopops, wines and spirits being purchased from the supermarkets and the like (this is where the up-to-25% difference has gone), it's clear that pubs' extended hours AREN'T the sole contributory factor to booze related problems. There will be localised problems with individual bars and pubs, but we shouldn't restrict everyone elses' new-found freedom just for the sake of a minority.

eugeneMarch 4th 2008.

ok i will meet you outside bar 38 at 1 am. bring the knuckle dusters ;-)

eugeneMarch 4th 2008.

ok argument over :-)

Ale JohnMarch 4th 2008.

Well, Eugene, you appear to have me bang to rights there, taking umbrage just because I've levelled criticism at your...er...rant. The original article is spot on in those areas which you mention. Just because the papers say something sensational doesn't mean it MUST be true. That's why newspapers sell: it's nowt to do with news (THAT won't seel) but more to do woth a damn good story, however slightly wrong it is.

NeilMarch 4th 2008.

Just when I was first starting to go in pubs around 1989/90 the law was changing to allow pubs to open between 3.00 and 5.00. I remember then all the sensationalist headlines that the factories up and down the country would be empty with all the workers drinking all afternoon (it was always the factories...never the accountancy office). Funnilly enough it just turned out that it was quite pleasant to go for a beer at 4.00 in the afternoon whilst the girlfriend was looking for shoes. The same is true some 15 years later. Pubs in the city-centre and in the suburbs close at different times and people just go home when they want. Already the five-to-eleven three pint dash is a thing of the past. Taxis are easier to get. It will take a few years but we will continue to see a positive cultural shift.

eugeneMarch 4th 2008.

ale John, I understand you point, but the jist of my argument was that i feel the article was written in a hypocratic manner. It slams the sensationlist attitude of the MEN, Daily Mail etc, yet writes things like: 'The success will really piss off the new-puritans and their allies...Any fool – even the above ones - can see that there is absolutely no correlation between the bizarre scenes on British High Streets on weekends and extended licensing'So to pot it another way..pot, kettle and black.You can't completely destroy someone elses argument without any facts.. and you can't put people down when you mimic their behaviour!rant over :-)

are you for real (aka eugene)March 4th 2008.

i agree with your anti-sensationalist rant, if you had not sensationalised your whole story..Quote David Davis: "Over a million drink-inspired violent crimes against people last year - the highest ever." and "Roughly a 50% increase in anti-social behaviour based on alcohol"Now, lets get down to brass facts. What exactly was your point? That armageddon has not arrived as feared? Well maybe not, but things aren't exactly a bed of roses..Hypocrisy rules...

Ale JohnMarch 4th 2008.

And now I've read ALL the article, I agree even more with its author: what else can we un-ban?

MartinMarch 4th 2008.

fosters/carling/carlsberg etc being bought in a multi-pack from a supermarket for the equivalant of 50p a can. Whether you're buying it at 4 in the afternoon or 4 in the morning it is ridiculously under-priced and this is where the root of our drink related problems lie.

Ale JohnMarch 4th 2008.

Aaww, damn, Eugene. I was spoiling for a fight. Or at least, a real ding-dong...

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