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Last Updated: Friday, 21 January, 2005, 16:29 GMT
Problem pubs to get 'yellow card'
Girls night out
Responsible drinkers will benefit from the changes, ministers say
Disorderly pubs will be given eight weeks to clean up their act before being billed for extra policing, under new proposals.

The "yellow card" warnings are designed to combat binge drinking when pubs move to 24-hour opening in the autumn.

People with three on-the-spot fines for drink-related offences could also be banned from pubs in designated areas.

But ministers have stopped short of forcing all pubs to pay for extra police and street cleaning.

Bar staff

The new rules will apply in designated Alcohol Disorder Zones, where problems have been reported with drunken behaviour.

Those pubs and bars which attract the sort of people who ruin it for everyone else should definitely contribute
Sarah, Birmingham UK

People with three on-the-spot fines or convictions for drink-related offences will be banned from pubs and bars in specified areas for a fixed time, under new Drinking Banning Orders.

Children who attempt to buy alcohol will also face on the spot fines, as will bar staff who serve drunks.

Police and trading standards officers will be given the power to ban premises from selling alcohol for 24 hours where there is evidence they are persistently selling to under 18s.

'Megapubs'

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said: "Our current licensing laws are creaking under the strain. "That's why we are reforming them - to make our towns and cities safe for all, not a free for all.

To me, this all seems like last-minute chaos
Tim Martin, Wetherspoons chairman

"The steps we are proposing today support the tough measures in the Licensing Act 2003.

"They send out a clear message - we will not tolerate the disorder and anti-social behaviour that blights our towns and city centres."

But Tory home affairs spokesman David Davis said the government's "hastily cobbled together proposals" would just "tinker" with the problem of binge drinking.

"Simply making a pub pay a levy after eight weeks will not stop the problem of violence and drunkenness," he added.

But he said the proposals showed the government realised 24 hour drinking would increase alcohol-fuelled problems.

Under the new licensing regime, which comes into effect in November, "megapubs" in town or city centres will pay 2,955 for their initial licence.

Police concern

The largest city or town centre pubs will pay a 1,905 initial application fee and an annual fee of 1,050 to the local authority.

The fee was previously 30 every three years to serve alcohol until 2300 at night regardless of venue size.

Chris Fox, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers said it would be "difficult" to enforce and track the banning orders.

But on Alcohol Disorder Zones, he said: "Hopefully, the eight-week warning period gives people a chance to change their behaviour and we won't need to recover costs."

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said it feared all pubs would be punished for the irresponsible actions of a few.

Wetherspoons chairman Tim Martin said: "The morons in the Home Office thought it would be sexy to go for 24-hour licensing. It was never an idea which emerged from pubs.

"To me, this all seems like last-minute chaos."




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SEE ALSO:
Head-to-head: 24-hour drinking
14 Jan 05 |  Politics
Whetting the appetite
19 Jan 05 |  Magazine
How much is too much?
20 Jan 05 |  Magazine
Drinking plans 'need examining'
21 Jan 05 |  Politics


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