Personally, I would allow anyone over 16 to be served in pubs. This would remove most of the underage drinkers from the streets and allow them to socialise in a controlled, well managed and safer environment. At least in a pub, trained staff can tell them when they’ve had enough. We have to reach a situation where responsible drinking is encouraged and irresponsible drinking in the street is discouraged and I think there’s logic in this idea.Anyone regularly reading this blog will be aware that I'm a bit dubious or even cynical...OK, it would be hilarious if it wasn't so funny...regarding the so-called "controlled environment" of pubs - perhaps as someone responsible for regulating the conduct of landlords it suits Councillor Mogg to portray them as always adhering to their legal obligation to act responsibly - but even if bar staff "can tell [drinkers] when they've had enough", the problem is perhaps not so much what takes place in the pub as what happens in the street afterwards, whether the revellers are stopped from buying further alcohol, leave of their own accord or are thrown out at closing time.
Thus perhaps Mr Mogg misses the point a bit, as seemed to be the case recently with Wetherspoons drinks mogul Tim Martin, when I said:
But the main problem relates to what happens when drunks spill out of pubs, with shouting, swearing, vomiting and urinating being merely the low-level tip of an iceberg of crime and disorder, but which in any case makes late night city centres such unpleasant and indeed menacing places for ordinary people.Therefore it would be back to square one as regards the problems caused by drinking in the street that Councillor Mogg seeks to eradicate.
Unsurprisingly, though, Paul Waterson of the Scottish Licensed Traders Association is supportive of the idea. With a couple of caveats, however, one of which is that: "It only be allowed in suitable establishments which would have to apply for a special licence to ensure they adopted a responsible attitude."
Ergo, current licensees don't necessarily adopt a responsible attitude? Well said that man!
It's perhaps also worth noting that last year Fife Licensing Board pandered to late night drinking by extending opening hours in some parts of the Kingdom. Although fairly limited in scope, this surely sent out the wrong message, particularly as Scotland's liberalisation of the licensing laws a generation ago (I was a bit too young for the pubs when they closed at 10pm!) has hardly encouraged sensible drinking, and the more recent attempt by the Labour Government to create a continental-style cafe culture (sic!) south of the border has turned out to be the waste of time that a quick glance northwards would have predicted.
Thus Councillor Mogg's blueprint hardly seems the perfect cocktail for responsible drinking - more drunks spilling out of pubs even later at night seems as much the problem than the solution.