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Last Updated: Friday, 25 November 2005, 20:22 GMT
Weekend 'big test for drink laws'
Police (generic)
Police say this weekend will be the first real test of 24-hour drinking
Police in the South East have said the first weekend since the introduction of new licensing laws will be a big test.

They believe the 48-hour period will be an "unknown quantity", with up to 10,000 bars, pubs and clubs intending to extend their hours.

It follows a relatively quiet first night on Thursday when only a handful of pubs and clubs in Kent and Sussex took advantage of 24-hour drinking.

Many licensees reported few late night customers and little trouble.

But Chris Brown, duty manager of the Muggleton pub in Maidstone, said sadly trouble occurs regardless of opening hours.

'Alleviate trouble'

"It's going to happen because of drink and it'll happen whether they extend opening by one hour, two hours or 24 hours," he said.

"But I haven't witnessed any problems so far."

But Brighton bar manager Richard Pattinson said the new staggered opening hours in the city will alleviate trouble often associated with the traditional last orders.

"Rather than 200-300 people piling out of a club at one time it will be staggered and people will leave earlier of later," he said.

More than 8,000 applications for licences to serve alcohol around the clock were made across Kent and East Sussex, but only 66 were granted.

However, a further 4,350 were given extensions to their licences, usually for an hour or two.



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