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Britain tries to join the Continent? [20051123|11:50]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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It's finally happening.

Beginning at midnight tonight, over 60,000 establishments (including supermarkets, petrol stations, pubs and clubs) will be extending the hours during which they may sell alcohol. Over 1000 will receive 24-hour licenses to serve alcohol.

A quote from Licensing Minister James Purnell:
"It is absolutely clear that the current system has not worked," said the minister.

"Let's not penalise the majority of responsible drinkers because of the crimes of a minority.

"There should be a very clear principle here - that if people are not causing harm to others, government should get out of their personal lives."

I'm curious to see what effects, aside from the expected increase in alcohol-related disorderly behavior, the change in the laws will actually have. I wonder how much the old laws helped to create the binge-drinking problem. After all, when a pub shuts at 11 PM, the temptation to gulp down more than one pint at 10:45 is fairly strong. A great deal of heated argument about the sources of the binge-drinking problem has been going on for the past month or so, with everything from broken families and poor job prospects for graduates to the astronomical cost of house prices being blamed for the tendencies of British adults and teenagers to turn to drink for comfort. But I can't help thinking that all of those factors point towards one underlying attitude: that to have a desire to drink alcohol is to need an escape from reality. That's what needs to be changed. I think increasing freedom of choice helps to create a reality from which fewer people feel, subconsciously, a need to escape.

[User Picture]From: nimoloth
2005-11-23 12:48 (UTC)
Not in Scotland! We're not allowed to sell it on Sunday mornings either.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-11-23 12:54 (UTC)
It seemed to me that in Edinburgh at least, pubs generally served a bit longer than they do in London, even though in supermarkets and off-licenses you couldn't purchase past 10 PM. Whacky!

Doesn't the smoking ban go into effect next March? Scotland's is first, then Wales and N. Ireland, and the English are still debating theirs.
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[User Picture]From: nimoloth
2005-11-23 14:37 (UTC)
In Glasgow, it's 11pm except Fri Sat Sun when it's 12 midnight. Certain areas have special licences such as Ashton Lane, which is all 1pm. Some get round it by serving food, others by technically becoming nightclubs, and then they can stay open until the wee small hours. Outside cities, I'm not so sure. I think it may be midnight in rural areas, I don't really know (I don't go out in my home area).

Smoking is to be banned soon - I can't wait!
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[User Picture]From: nimoloth
2005-11-23 14:39 (UTC)
Oh yeah, and like mentioned below, it's illegal to drink in public (i.e. outside).
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[User Picture]From: bellelaqueen
2005-11-23 14:10 (UTC)
In Australia, I'm pretty sure the only time you can't serve alcohol is before 13:00 on Anzac day....unless it's served with a meal. This is also the only day where Two-up can be legally played.

Of course, funnily enough, there are still some dry area's (although this is a local council thing, not federal laws) and you can't drink in most public area's (ie on the streets, public transport, many beaches).
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-11-24 00:36 (UTC)
I don't think I object too strenuously to drinking being forbidden in public areas. I mean, most of the people I see with cans in their hands on the streets, buses or tubes in London are generally not doing so well, you know what I mean? I've also seen bus drivers make people throw away their beers before boarding. There are a few places where it doesn't make sense to have laws like that, like certain places in central London with a high density of pubs where people tend to spill out into the streets on crowded summer evenings. But for the most part, I think it's rather better not to have people yarking, losing consciousness, or harassing people on buses and trains. And while not everyone who wants to drink in those places behaves that way, the majority of them do.
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[User Picture]From: aziraphale
2005-11-23 14:48 (UTC)
Can you please send some of that rational forward-thinking mojo over to this side of the Atlantic? We're shockingly low on it over here...
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-11-24 00:42 (UTC)
I don't think we're low on it, necessarily. I think it's just that certain viewpoints lack rational, vocal champions in America. I think a lot of people who disagree with the loudest espousers of viewpoints tend to reject the behavior of said screechers as well as their ideals. As a result, they tend to stay completely silent, which is a little sad. So you don't get many Americans who are willing to make the kind of strong public statement that the Licensing Minister did, because they're afraid of being as bad as the people they disagree with.
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[User Picture]From: omniana
2005-11-23 15:05 (UTC)
Well that's brilliant! So civilized. I love the last quote. I wish they would apply it in the US broadly. Actually, I love all the quotes. I also doubt that excessive drink is going to reduce. How long has the 11 pm cut off been in place? And was there binge drinking before? Even if not, binge drinking is a part of the social structure now anyway. Interesting point from the culture secretary, to fix binge drinking first. Only problem is, how do you fix binge drinking? Not with a 11 pm cut off time, that's a long term investment.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-11-24 00:50 (UTC)
I'm not sure how long the 11 PM cutoff has been in place. I was under the impression that it dated back to the 1950s at least, and that binge drinking had steadily increased since the end of the second world war. I strongly disagree with the statement that, "We need to fix binge drinking before we extend licensing hours." The whole point of extending the licensing hours is ameliorating binge drinking. If you don't like it, suggest a different strategy for doing it, then.

Another objection that annoys me is the one that claims the extended hours will result in establishments breaking the rules and serving alcohol beyond the cut-off time or to minors. Excuse me? Don't tell me these people have never heard of a lock-in, or a nightclub, or a fake ID.
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[User Picture]From: theprincessdrea
2005-11-23 15:46 (UTC)
I know from my own personal experience with pot that I didn't stop binging on it after it became abundantly available to me after spending years of only gaining access to it intermittently. Also, having been a bulimic as a teenager, I know binging isn't about being deprived from the outside, it has everything to do with what is going on within. Those that have a problem will continue to have it and those who don't will be grateful for not being punished for the inner demons of others.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-11-24 00:56 (UTC)
I agree, and I think it's also more likely that subsequent generations will see certain substances and activities as much less interesting if they aren't forbidden - if they are taught from an early age that the choice to use or engage in them is entirely theirs, and they are responsible for the consequences. For instance, less than 5% of the Dutch population patronizes coffeeshops and brothels. Amsterdam brothels estimate that 40% of their clientele is British.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2005-11-24 01:01 (UTC)
...and, er, prostitution is illegal in Britain, in case that wasn't clear. :-P
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[User Picture]From: kujawski
2005-11-24 12:31 (UTC)

Drinking Times

While stationed in Savannah, I found that they had been able to make a drinking time work, because the city is so small (for a modern, decent sized city). The cops took their cars to the main club/bar area, and used their patrol cars to emit a sonic disturbance frequency that would make everyone scatter like cockroaches when the lights are turned on. This would obviously NOt work in a city like London, as it is so large. What methods had they tried to use out there to disperse people at closing time? Anything like that?
Also, I like to see that the Licensing Minister made those comments. I found it hillarious that the one Supreme Court Justice who spoke out against the (what seems to me to be illegal) ruling of the supreme court against marijuana that is grown and used in the same state was Bush Sr's appointment, Clarence Thomas. We're just all backwards over here, like that.
Is drunk driving a big deal out there? From what I have seen on the Discovery channel, London seems to have the coolest public transportation system evar (like many of their other systems - that city just ROXORZ).
-Andrzej Valentyn Kujawski
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