Has anyone ever seen or heard of a pub that actually is open for 24 hours? All the pubs here close at 11 throughout the week, some are open to 1 am on a Friday and Saturday and there's a nightclub I never visit that's open to around 3 at weekends - but shuts much earlier during the week. It's impossible to find a pub open after 10:30 on Sunday. All these late licences were already in place before the 24-hour idea came up, so there's been absolutely no effect here.
Now it seems the Gorgon has decided to restrict the 24 hour licencing to 21 hours. Pubs can be closed by Council decree between 3 am and 6 am - but only if they are causing problems.
The only place open between 3 am and 6 am here is Tesco and they can't sell booze at those times.
It's never felt restrictive to me. It's just business sense. Why be open at 3 am to serve drinks to one or two absolutely plastered clients? You have to pay for staff and utilities for a very small return. Then you'll have no time to clean the place, do the books, restock, because it's never closed.
24 hour drinking was just showmanship by the government. 21 hour drinking is the same. A real business can't afford to do it. Yes, staggered opening times are a possibility but which pub gets the graveyard shift? Which one opens at 11 pm to take in the already-sozzled and spent-out punters from the other pubs? If I were a publican I wouldn't volunteer for that.
Still, for some, any drinking at all is evil.
Alcohol Concern immediately slammed the new rules as 'too weak'.
They would have done that if pubs were allowed to open for 20 minutes a day and called last orders one minute after opening. Nothing short of prohibition will satisfy them. They are the drinker's version of ASH.
Chief executive Don Shenker said: 'This announcement is a belated acknowledgement that the Government has not been able to tackle alcohol-related crime and disorder effectively on behalf of local residents.
But, Don, it's not the drink that causes trouble. It's the people. As long as the government focuses on the drink and does nothing to deal with the yobs, nothing will change. If they want to drink for the three hours the pubs are closed they'll take some cans home, then come back at 6 am.
The police arrest the troublemakers and the courts set them free in time for the next binge. There are no consequences that deter the yobs and the yobs know it. They'll get an ASBO and a ticking off and next time they're in court, they'll get the same. Eventually the police stop arresting them because it's a waste of time.
The opening hours are not a problem. The availability of drink is not a problem. People getting plastered is not a problem.
People causing trouble is a problem but the bigger problem is that the courts will take drink as an excuse for such behaviour. They see it as the cause. It is not.
Whether drunk or not, the individual should be held responsible for what they do. It was their choice to get gassed up and go out and smash things. Plenty of drunks manage to get home without anyone even noticing. Many, many more go home after just a couple of drinks.
And yet the Shenker wants to penalise everyone for the actions of a few, while doing nothing at all to prevent further action by those few. None of Alcohol Concern's measures will have the slightest effect on those yobs because they are not aimed at the wild drunks.
The only thing that will work is for the courts to stop accepting alcohol - and other ridiculous defences - as an excuse. If someone smashes a shop window, how many units they drank is irrelevant. They smashed a shop window and that is the only thing the courts should be concerned with.
If there are consequences to violent behaviour, if no self-inflicted impairment is accepted as an excuse, then things will change.
But then, like ASH, Alcohol Concern don't want things to change. Their existence depends on things staying exactly as they are.