November 23rd, 2005

Listen up drunkies in England and Wales

'A third of pubs' to open longer
About one-third of all the pubs, clubs and shops in England and Wales licensed to sell alcohol are to get longer opening hours, BBC research suggests.
New licensing laws which could allow 24-hour drinking in some areas come into force at midnight.

According to the research, more than 56,000 outlets - and possibly about 70,000 - will be allowed to sell alcohol for longer than they do now.

But so far only a fraction - 359 pubs and clubs - will get 24-hour licences.

The BBC contacted 375 licensing authorities for the survey and 301 responded in full.

The authorities who responded said:

There have been 56,388 extensions in hours for selling alcohol - 50% of the total number of licensed premises but not including off-licences.

1,121 establishments will have 24-hour licences (about 0.75% of the total) and of these 359 are pubs or clubs.
When figures for licensing authorities which did not respond to the survey are included, the number of pubs, clubs, bars, off-licences and supermarkets allowed to sell alcohol for longer is likely to rise to about 70,000.

That is more than a third of the total number of licensed premises.

Arrests rise?

The survey results come after ministers warned that the introduction of more relaxed licensing laws on Thursday is likely to lead to an increase in alcohol related arrests.

Licensing Minister James Purnell said the new laws would be coupled with greater enforcement powers to crack down on alcohol-fuelled disorder.

A rise in the number of arrests could be a measure of the success of powers in the Licensing Act, he said.

But shadow culture secretary Theresa May said that logic was "absurd".

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/11/23 05:03:29 GMT