Tuesday, 1 September 2009

And On It Goes

Now, apparently the Government want to ban people from licensed premises for up to two years if they've been a bit unruly with the drink.

Great. Pubs are closing at the rate of something around 5-10 a day and the Government wants to take away their best customers. They also want to take away the glasses.

Well, of course you want to make drinking less popular because people who have obviously never been to a pub in their life don't really like the idea of it. This being the UK the tale isn't quite as joined up as you'd like. Here's an article from an admittedly biased source that claims alcohol consumption is falling in the UK and has been for a while:

Other key indicators of overall UK alcohol consumption are:

• Alcohol consumption was six per cent lower in 2008 than in 2004 – 8.9 litres per head against 9.5 litres per head

• Consumption has fallen by 4.6 per cent since the introduction of the Licensing Act in 2005, resulting in a saving to the economy of £2.3 billion over the last three years.

• The current reduced level of consumption in 2008 could save the economy £8.0 billion over ten years, according to the Government’s own figures – even without any further decreases in consumption.

• Of 20 countries where comparable data is available, the UK ranks only 14th in alcohol consumption per head – well behind consumption levels in France and Germany.

I would put good money on this decline being sharper in certain areas and that what's preventing UK consumption dropping further down is the rise of the middle class wine drinker, who probably sees nothing much wrong in his bottle (or just half, if he's careful) of wine a day with dinner.

It seems to me that when you create big soulless city center pubs whose only function is to swap as much alcohol for as much money as they can make on a weekend, that it is inevitable that you are going rub all sorts of socially disfunctional people up against each other, many the sort of person who shouldn't be rubbed at all.

That closure rate means there's less choice and what's being closed are those pubs that have been squeezed by whichever middle-management chisellers bought them up after the Government decided that the breweries had a monopoly (something Private Eye have recently decided to point up, too late, so I guess Ian Hislop's favourite local must have fallen foul of Enterprise Inns or whoever). The soulless franchises are there for different reasons and, so, become the norm.

This leads to the odd idea that people are drinking less, though more in one go, in fewer, though bigger, pubs. Which actaully seems to point to a problem. That problem isn't the glass the pint comes in but a series of goverment policies that have lead to the hounding out of smaller, local pubs in favour of larger chain pubs, it is thus logical that the answer to that problem is to investigate the glassware.


Joe Herzberg said...

In Leeds we seem to be turning a corner. Tetley's brewery is closing down. Meaning unfortunately a loss of jobs and a massive empty area in the middle of Leeds where they will presumably build a load of flats that no-one will want to live in.
On the plus side though - no more Tetley's. I have actually had people try to convince me that Tetley's is a real ale! It's horrible blandness has finally made itself clear to the discerning drinker who can now buy other far superior local ales from brewers such as Leeds Brewery, Saltaire, Timothy Taylor's, Copper Dragon, Idle Brewery etc. etc.
There are a lot of problems but lets be honest a lot of the pubs that closed down were crap and a lot of the beers that have gone weren't much good. Pint of Watneys anyone? See you at the Drum, oh no, maybe the Pig, ah maybe not.

Paul said...

That's the thing though. The Pig and the Drum had their own regulars and the trouble they caused tended to be at the Pig and at the Drum. Now they are cut loose from the Barmaid's apron strings and are free to drag their knuckles to other less deserving places.