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Flexible laws good news for pubs

PUBLISHED: 10:44 05 July 2010 | UPDATED: 21:50 01 August 2010

New flexible drinking laws have been good news for rural pubs, and not caused the binge-drinking carnage that opponents forecast would tarnish city and town streets.

New flexible drinking laws have been good news for rural pubs, and not caused the binge-drinking carnage that opponents forecast would tarnish city and town streets.

Five years on from the introduction of longer opening hours for pubs and clubs, police, officials and pub experts in Norfolk say the extra flexibility has been a winner for people wanting to enjoy a longer night out, without causing major disorder problems.

Meanwhile, many people who previously had to head to the city of Norwich for their late-night fun are now staying in market town venues - providing a boost to their trade and local taxi businesses.

But while a handful of rural venues are staying open until the early hours of the morning to provide music and party action, most are shutting by midnight or 1am to match the needs of a different kind of customer just wanting to dine late and relax afterwards.

The findings come as pressure mounts among the new coalition government to review the licensing laws, which promoted 24-7 drinking in a bid to bring continental-style café culture to the streets of Britain.

Home secretary Theresa May believes the changes have resulted in more drink-related problems, and is looking at measures to quell the problem, such as extra charging for premises which open late to help pay for the costs of policing them.

But the picture in Norfolk appears to be more positive - both in Norwich and its county towns.

Chief Insp Gavin Tempest, who is responsible for community safety, said people were staying closer to home for their socialising.

Nightlife in market towns had picked up as venues stayed open later and were able to compete with the lure of the city, resulting in footfall in Norwich falling by about a fifth.

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