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EDITIONS
 Wednesday, 1 January, 2003, 19:55 GMT
UK throws off New Year hangover
New Year's Day parade
Crowds braved rain for London's New Year parade
New Year celebrations have gone off successfully across the UK, with millions now facing a return to work after a long festive break.

Despite concerns about an added threat of terrorism, extra security in major cities appeared to have worked.

Pub owners also hailed extended opening hours as a success - although few actually stayed open for the maximum 36 hours allowed.

Tony Payne, chief executive of the Federation of Licensed Victuallers Associations, said because businesses were able to choose their own hours there was less crush on the streets than if they were forced to shut at the same time.

Edinburgh fireworks
Edinburgh's Hogmanay was a sell-out
"From what I have heard from our members it was a very peaceful evening," Mr Payne said.

He said most businesses had chosen to close between 2am and 4am.

The British Beer and Pub Association also agreed that the longer hours had helped cut problems usually associated with New Year celebrations.

"It was good for business but most important of all it was a great party.

"Extending hours is a good way to reduce lots of the problems that can be associated with our binge-drinking culture," a spokesman said.

In London, an estimated 60,000 people were on the streets of central London at the stroke of midnight.

Crowds reached 20,000 in Parliament Square, 14,000 around the Trafalgar Square area and 6,000 in Leicester Square.

This came despite criticism the capital failed to play host to a large official celebration, unlike cities like New York and Sydney.

London also burst into colour on Wednesday with its traditional New Year's Day Parade.

Edinburgh's 10th New Year celebrations included music from former international chart-toppers Culture Club, and Mercury Music Prize winner Ms Dynamite.

Police praised revellers for their behaviour, which saw just four arrests in a crowd of 85,000 people who packed Princes Street and the Royal Mile for the ticket-only event.

About 70,000 people turned up in Glasgow city centre for festivities, and a sell-out crowd of 40,000 ushered in the New Year on the Newcastle and Gateshead banks of the Tyne with fireworks and partying.

In Cardiff more than 35,000 people flocked to watch a lantern parade through the streets, culminating in a fireworks show at Cardiff Castle.

Police incidents

The New Year was marred, however, by the death of five people, all in the early hours of 2003.

Detectives in Birmingham launched a murder inquiry after a man was found stabbed to death, and police in Hampshire are investigating the death of a man in his 30s.

A man in Suffolk died after a hit-and-run accident; in Kent a man died after a fight outside a pub and a fifth man was found on the beach at Bournemouth, Dorset, after the coastguard received a call just before 0200 GMT.

In Nottingham, two people were injured when a gunman opened fire on revellers at a house party early on Wednesday morning.

Missing bongs

On a more cheerful note, the first batch of New Year babies were welcomed into the world.

Emily Welsh was one of the first to be born this year, arriving at 0004 GMT to her parents Lucy Sandford, 20 and Adam Welsh, 22, of Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands.

Two other arrivals were Chloe Mote and Jennifer Hyde, both born at 0005 GMT at hospitals 20 miles apart in the west of Scotland.

Radio listeners hoping to welcome in the New Year to the sound of Big Ben were left disappointed after the BBC suffered a technical hitch.

The midnight chimes traditionally broadcast on Radio 4 were replaced by a lengthy silence, followed by an apology by the presenter.

See also:

01 Jan 03 | England
01 Jan 03 | Scotland
01 Jan 03 | England
01 Jan 03 | England
01 Jan 03 | England
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