LAST month the Lancashire Telegraph launched the Every Action Has Consequences campaign to raise awareness of the devastating effects of spontaeneous violence. We look at whether town centres could be made safer if late-night bars and pubs were hit with a ‘law and order charge’ to cover the cost of policing.
THE possibility of a levy on pubs is seen as a way of reversing the 24-hour drinking regime introduced by Labour in 2005 And experts in East Lancashire said the round-the-clock licensing had been a failure in the area, but questioned whether the charge was the solution.
Proposals being drawn up by Home Secretary Theresa May are also said to include a change of wording on post-11pm licence applications to make pubs prove after-hours drinking is beneficial.
The amount charged to pay for ‘after hours’ policing may even be graded on the establishment’s popularity.
Chris Wooddissee, licensee at FJ Nichols and a key member of Blackburn’s BarU scheme, said: “Dismantling the 24-hour drinking is a good thing.
“Any publican would say that it has had absolutely the opposite affect to what it was meant to have. Continental cafe culture has just not happened.
“All that has happened is pubs staying open later and later just to take the same amount of money and reduced profitability because of extra wages.”
He said supermarkets breaking the ‘unwritten code of minimum pricing’ was the biggest influence on drink-fuelled violence, but stressed Blackburn town centre had seen big reductions.
“The issue is people buying three crates for £10, getting tanked up and then going to a pub and causing trouble: the pub gets the blame,” he said.
Burnley licensing officer Mark Driver predicted the charge could be the ‘nail in the coffin’ of the licensing trade.
But PC Driver, who enforces licensing laws in Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale, agreed that 24-hour licensing has ‘not worked’.
He added: “Pre licensing act, everything shut at 2am and there was congestion in taxi ranks and takeaways which lead to fights.
“But, there is the same amount of crime and disorder, it’s just spread out into the early hours of the morning.”