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Last Updated: Friday, 24 November 2006, 01:00 GMT
Drink laws 'not changing habits'
About 200,000 venues have applied for late licences
The shake-up of licensing laws a year ago has not encouraged most people to go to pubs more or start drinking later in the evening, a survey suggests.

Some 71% of 2,095 people polled by the British Beer and Pub Association said the England and Wales shake-up had not seen them alter the time they went out.

And 85% said the laws, which permitted 24-hour opening, did not encourage them to go out drinking more often.

But campaigners said more still needed to be done to address binge drinking.

According to the YouGov survey for the BBPA trade body, 21% of those polled felt under less pressure to drink quickly; 23% of pub-goers were more likely to stay at their local, and 14% of 18-24-year-olds were more likely to go out later.

Many local residents are powerless to object to noisy or rowdy venues
Hugo Swire, Conservative shadow culture secretary

"In contrast to the apocalyptic predictions of the doom and gloom merchants, the change in our licensing laws has not unleashed a free for all," said BBPA chief executive Rob Hayward.

"Just as the pub trade has responded responsibly to reform, so people are behaving reasonably and rationally as it beds down."

Cafe culture

Under the new Licensing Act, premises selling food or alcohol after 11pm needed to apply for a new licence, even if they did not intend to change their opening hours.

Licensing Minister Shaun Woodward said there had not been an "explosion" in all-night venues and there were "encouraging signs" the new laws were working.

A survey of licensing authorities released by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport suggests about 3,000 out of the 200,000 premises who applied for licences under the act can now serve alcohol 24 hours a day.

But many of these are said to stay open all night only on special occasions.

23% of pub-goers more likely to stay at their local
21% feel less pressured to drink up quickly
14% of 18-24-year-olds more likely to go out later
Sample size: 2,095
Source: YouGov/BBPA

Supermarkets make up 25% of the premises granted 24-hour licences; pubs, bars and clubs 20%, and convenience stores another 20%.

The remaining licences are held by other venues such as hotels.

The Conservatives said high legal costs were preventing local residents from taking action against trouble spots.

"The government promised that the changes would make life safer and quieter for local residents," said shadow culture secretary Hugo Swire.

"Yet many local residents are powerless to object to noisy or rowdy venues."

The Department of Health said there was no evidence that the introduction of the act had increased pressure on accident and emergency facilities.

The charity Action on Addiction, however, said the UK still had a "huge problem" with binge drinking.

Researcher Bob Patton said: "Some alcohol-related conditions that develop over long periods of time would not show up yet, so we cannot be sure of the long-term damage that the wider availability of alcohol may have caused."

The London Ambulance Service said the number of alcohol-related incidents requiring medical attention in the capital had grown by 3% over the last year.

Deputy director of operations Russell Smith said: "We have not seen the huge rise in alcohol-related incidents that some feared, but there doesn't appear to have been a move towards the hoped-for cafe culture either."

Footage showing the effects of binge drinking

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