In recent years, when writing about alcohol licences and late-night opening in particular, sadly the same themes have come up over and over again.
In general, the complaints can summarised as; there are too many places selling alcohol, in too many areas of our towns and cities, for too long each day.
The introduction of 24-hour drinking laws was, infamously, supposed to herald a more sophisticated cafe culture-type in British high streets, with less of a pressure for people to neck pints at closing time. However, as has been raised again in national stories this week about so-called ‘drunk tanks’, all it has changed is that people now neck drinks for later into the night, with all the attendant dangers that leads to in the small hours.
But amid this gloom, it’s pleasing to be able to report on a case in which the director of a bar has not just paid lip service to listening to local residents, but has acted on their concerns. Drift bar in Palmerston Road, Southsea was looking to extend its licensing hours, starting at 8am for certain sporting events and, at the latest, finishing at 4am at the weekend.
But people living nearby – and, although it is a main street Palmerston Road is very much in a residential area – were opposed to this, fearing it would just lead to noise and disruption for even longer.
Hearing that, director Steve Hudson decided to scrap the late plan, much to the delight of his neighbours. Obviously, an independently-owned bar has more power to set its own rules than the outpost of a pub chain, but we think Mr Hudson’s change of heart is laudable.
As he points out, he is a local resident himself, and has no wish to sour relations with people in the area.
If this attitude were replicated more elsewhere, we would have a much better situation. Yes, no doubt many people think that the bar’s current hours are too late anyway, and yes, there are issues to be addressed still in Palmerston Road, Guildhall Walk and elsewhere, but it’s good to see that the public opinion can count for something.