Pubs prove critics wrong - Editor's Comment

Related tags Andrew pring New licensing laws New laws Daily mail

Licensees who stayed open longer should pat themselves on the back for a job well done Andrew Pring, Editor We warned you the eyes of the press would...

Licensees who stayed open longer should pat themselves on the back for a job well done

Andrew Pring, Editor

We warned you the eyes of the press would be trained on you last week, eager to report that the new licensing laws were a step into hell. But what none of us knew was how little they'd find. No rioting, looting, pillaging. No break down of civilisation. We should have had more faith in each other!

As London's Evening Standard ruefully reported on Thursday: 'All Quiet on the West End Front.' And the inside pages told a story that it must have hurt them to publish: people drinking quietly after 11pm in their favourite pubs. Those drinkers went on to remark how pleasant it was to be able to carry on chatting, rather than being forced either to end the evening or find a late-night venue that would draw blood from their ears once they were in and risked drawing blood from their knuckles in the taxi 'queue' later as they tried to go home.

Other papers that have vociferously denounced the new hours fell silent over the weekend, despite the best efforts of their reporters to whip up a storm. And radio and TV were similarly thwarted.

As our columnist Roger Protz sardonically remarked, it was a case of: 'Small earthquake in Britain: not many dead.'

Of course, one late-night swallow does not a summer make - and the Daily Mail brigade will continue to look for opportunities to harm the trade. But it is vastly cheering that so many consumers enjoyed the new laws in the way we all hoped they would. And licensees everywhere who stayed open longer should pat themselves on the back for a job well done.

The only sour note struck was in Oldham and a few other localities, where heavy-handed councils shut pubs they claimed had incorrect paperwork. What a way to win friends and influence people at this crucial time. The bureaucrats may have thought they were putting out a firm message showing who is in charge. To licensees, though, all it says is that we were right to fear coming under inflexible and robotic local authority control.

Those councils who worked well with licensees during transition and post-November 24 will themselves have shuddered at that stupidity. They want the new regime to work. Let's keep that in mind in the months ahead.

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