TIME has been called on traditional pub opening hours but not everyone is convinced changes to alcohol licensing laws will curb anti-social behaviour on the streets of South Cheshire.
From next year pubs, clubs and offlicences will be able to choose their own closing times under new laws scrapping the 11pm curfew.
Billed as a step towards a continental 24-hour bar culture, in practice the move will attempt to curb the rush after last orders by staggering closing times, keeping large numbers of revellers off the streets and cutting down the like-lihood of trouble.
But despite promises that landlords will be held responsible for disorder under the new system, there are fears the binge drinking culture will not disappear so easily.
Helga Armonies, a pensioner from Chambers Street, Crewe, has campaigned against the loutish behaviour that plagues nearby Nantwich Road after hours.
She said: 'It remains to be seen if these changes will have any effect. Personally, I do not think it will work at all to begin with because the responsibility lies with the people drinking.
'People will drink all day if they are allowed to do so, and there will still be an overspill of drunken crowds into the streets no matter what time it is.
'I want landlords to be more responsible. I would like happy hours to be regulated to cut down on binge drinking and that starts with owners.
'The council keep saying they are taking steps to deal with yobs but I do not see them listening to local residents about what they want to see happening. I have not yet even received their questionnaire about these changes to the licensing laws.'
Licence holders are expected to welcome the changes. Andrew Barker, licensee at The Bank public house on Nantwich Road, Crewe, believes 24-hour permits and council control will go a long way towards solving drink-related disorder issues.
He said: 'Historically the old closing time laws definitely caused problems because they gave people so little time to enjoy their drink and forced them all out on to the streets at the same time twice a day.
'The new legislation will finally allow people to drink in their own time, they will go out later, probably drink less as a result and then all go home at different times. I think trouble will be cut down significantly.'
The Bank already has in place many schemes aimed at satisfying the criteria of the new premises licence.
Added Mr Barker: 'We deal with Lonsdale Security who, I believe, are the best in the business. We offer a free phone line for taxis, and if the designated driver for the evening hands their car keys to the bar they get free pop all night.
'Our manager Dawn Gibson is also due to sit exams in a couple of weeks for the new bar managing qualification the council are supporting.'
'Overall, I am very much in favour of local licences being in the charge of local authorities. Good licensees will benefit, bad ones will not. I think it is going to be a lot easier to identify problems and stamp out trouble.'
What's your verdict?
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