The Government looks set to make a u-turn over its 24-hour drinking policy and make it harder for pubs and bars to get licences to stay open later.
<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
According to a story in the Times this morning, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), under Tessa Jowell, will attempt to curb the development of a 24-hour drinking culture by changing the guidance to councils. The new directive will state that there is now "no general presumption in favour of lengthening licensing hours".
This represents a massive shift in direction from previously held guidelines, which aimed to vary closing times in the hope of curbing binge-drinking and alcohol-related violence.
However a spokesman for the British Beer and Pub Association said the change would not make much of a difference: "Every single pub has got the hours that they already want, so it's not like the industry is going to be worried. This change will only affect new licence applications as and when they happen."
Hugo Swire, shadow Culture Secretary, added: "This is a clear admission from Tessa Jowell that she got it wrong with the new licensing hours."
Since the law change in November 2005, 3,000 premises have been granted licenses to serve alcohol around the clock.
by Emily Manson
E-mail your comments to Emily Manson](mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=Government u-turn on 24-hour drinking) here.