Friday, May 21, 2004

24 Hour Licensing: Or, How We Decided To Let The Country Stab Itself All Night Long

Earlier on today I caught some random numpty talking about how the pub industry should start paying for the disruption it causes. That's a whole nother rant, though. What I want to rant about here, is the mention of 24-hour licensing. It's something that's been rumoured as "going to happen soon" since I first started pub work in 2001.

Whenever pubs or alcohol are mentioned in the news these days, it always seems to be inconjunction with "must stop binge drinking". To paraphrase Bill Hicks, "there is alcohol, therefore there is binge drinking". I'm currently working for Wetherspoons, and believe me, cheap (or "respectably priced" as my manager puts it) as they are, their manager training puts emphasis on getting shite people and durnk people out of your pub. "There is alcohol, therefore there is binge drinking". Crach down on pubs, and the profits for the off trade go up...

But on one hand, the govermnent complains and blames the pub industry, and then with the other they're constantly - but silently - trying to push 24-hour licensing.

What a monumentally stupid idea. I mean, no, really, fuck off. You're mad, wrong, fucked up on big red pills and just all over STOOPID.

The first pub I ever worked in was also - at the time - the biggest pub in the centre of Glasgow, and consequently had the highest take, at arounf £50K a week. This all changed to a couple of factors: month of £1 a pint, bottle and single, which invited the worst scum of Glasgow in to get cheaply steaming; and the opening of Lloyds No. 1, the first of it's type in Scotland, and a pub which was taking a staggering £100K per week at its peak - even though it was around half the size of my pub, and not that much more expensive.

Now, thanks to the extensive trouble that occurres in Lloyds, they've found that Glasgow City Council has rejected their application for the normal license extension that most other city centre pubs have. This means that they close at 11pm every night, and between 2pm and 6pm on Sundays. They also have to have one member of staff per 10 tables and - at last count - 15 security staff on duty at weekend.

Now imagine this pub was open 24 hours.

When the nightclubs close at 1am, 2am, 3am, whatever it is around your area, there will be fighting. There will be fighting because this is what happens when people drink to excess - and it's far, far easier to drink to excess and get away with it in a nightclub than it is in a normal pub.

Now you imagine that the city centre pubs are open all night. So when you leave the nightclub, steaming, you go to the pub for a few more. Does the doorman let you in? No, cos you're pished. So there's a fight. And if you get in? Well, there'll probably be a fight anyway.

Let's look at financial facts. During the night, how many customers are you going to have? In a pub the size of The Goose in Glasgow, my first pub, we'll say less than 30 a night - excluding all the drunken nightclub fuckers who would be turned away STRAIGHT AWAY. Those 30 people a night will probably only buy one or two pints each, then head home - and if it's nighshift people then they wont be in until 6, 7, 8am. So you're paying your minimum five staff by the hour for a twelve hour shift - you couldn't realistically expect people to do half a night shift - and you'll be paying them at a greater rate, because it's night shift. On top of that you have higher utility overheads, where are you making money? Why should any pub think this is a good idea? Higher overheads, more fighting...

I love working in pubs, because its fun and sometimes exciting and sometimes dangerous and never, ever a hard job. But the day I'm asked to work in a 24-hour licensed premises is the day I go on the dole. And christ, that's just about anathema.

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