11 August 2005

Statement on changes to alcohol licensing

Anthea Cox, Co-ordinating Secretary for Public Life and Social Justice: 'We welcome the indications from the Government that it might scale back or even repeal parts of the legislation loosening licensing laws. The Methodist Church has warned from the start of this process that you cannot change social cultures by legislation alone. Although we welcome the intention behind the Act - namely, to reduce binge drinking as people try to fit in as many drinks as possible before 11pm - the real effect could be to make the situation worse.

'There is much work needed to change people's attitude to drinking. It is still hard to find good non-alcoholic alternatives, so that people can choose to moderate their alcohol consumption without winding up with a small, boring or overpriced soft drink. Our Mocktails competition produced dozens of good alcohol- free drinks that are fun to drink, and we encourage people to continue to push pubs and bars to adopt these or others like them.

'In many town centres licensed premises are the only places to go out to, thus restricting choice. This needs active cooperation between national and local governments, businesses, the police and all who take care of those with a drink problem. It is a complex matter, and the drinking culture will take years to change, but this Act alone is not the solution, and may make matters worse.'

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