Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Westminster Moves to Scrap Pub Happy Hours

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Westminster Moves to Scrap Pub Happy Hours

Article excerpt

Byline: COLIN FREEMAN

LICENSING chiefs in the West End want to scrap happy hours and ban drinking in the streets to crack down on yob behaviour.

Westminster council wants the area's thousands of bars, pubs and clubs to scrap two-for-the-priceofone offers amid fears they encourage binge drinking.

While the "minimum pricing agreement" would be voluntary, landlords who chose to ignore it could get an unsympathetic hearing when their licences came up for renewal.

The proposals are included in two independent studies about the future of the West End's entertainment industry - and its impact on residents - which went before the council's cabinet last night.

Westminster could also follow the example of several other UK cities and town centres by banning public drinking in some or all streets.

Councillors believe this could be particularly useful to curb problems in areas such as Leicester Square. Other measures include late-night pubs and clubs having a "chill-out" hour before closing when no alcoholic drinks could be served, allowing customers to sober up before leaving. Leicester Square may also get uniformed wardens to back up police, clamp down on unlicensed traders, and improve management of buskers and pavement portrait artists.

All the measures will be subject to consultation over coming months, although members of the Tory-run council are broadly supportive.

Council leader Simon Milton said some licensees now went to " ridiculous extremes" with happy hours.

He said: "The offers are not just for a limited period - they go on all day or afternoon, and the idea is simply to get people to chuck as much alcohol down their throats as possible.

That's not the kind of entertainment we're looking for in the West End. We are interested in these recommendations, although it will depend on whether the police are supportive. …

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