Two days into the New Year, and Gordon Brown has made his first “U Turn”. Despite announcing during his initial period in office that he would be personally reviewing the impact of 24 hour drinking, today’s Time’s headlines the news that the PM is to keep the controversial drinking laws.
The climb down will surprise many who felt that Browns personal intervention was both a sign of his own feelings on the law, and also a desire to distance himself from some of Blair’s less than popular legacies. The decision will also surprise those who were only told yesterday that if they didn’t improve on their life styles, they would be faced with a rationed NHS.
The most damning criticism of the law comes on page 2 of the Time’s. Under the banner:
“Binge drinking, murder and mayhem marks start to New Year”.
With ambulance services faced with a record number of New Year call outs (a 40% rise in some areas) emergency service were stretched to the limit as a result of alcohol fuelled trouble and violence.
Yesterday I highlighted the Gazette’s coverage of problem locally. Today’s Time’s has shown that this is a national issue. If further proof were needed, today’s Gazette’s front page story tells how the police had to take a knife attack victim to hospital themselves as all ambulances were attending other serious incidents.
With the police and health authorities very much sitting on the fence when it comes to 24 hour drinking, communities themselves need to take the lead. Town centres are becoming no go areas on weekends due to drunken behaviour. Not far behind are housing estates and sea side resorts. The evidence from the New Year period clearly shows that as a society we simply can’t hold our drink. The law needs to be changed now if we are not to create a generation of alcohol fuelled yobs.