Bar boss backing early finish

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A BAR manager who backs police claims that 24-hour drinking is failing has signed up to a voluntary 2am closure.

Busby’s, in Church Street, Hartlepool, will shut an hour earlier than usual after agreeing to a request by police who say the introduction of 24-hour drinking has caused an increase in alcohol-fuelled incidents.

Officers have been visiting bars to ask licence holders to curb back their hours as part of the Mail-backed Respect Hartlepool campaign, which aims to make the town a safer place to live.

Busby’s manager Linda Baker said she signed up because despite not having “much trouble” on her premises, she says the changes have affected the amount people are spending at the bar as people go out later after downing cheap booze at home.

She added: “The later openings have not worked for us. It did not deliver what it promised, so changing back to a 2am closing time makes sense.

“There have been problems for the police, the NHS and the economy caused by this. It has been a mistake because it doesn’t seem to be working for anyone.”

The Labour Government introduced 24-hour drinking in 2005 with the hope it would create a “cafe culture”.

Mrs Baker said: “I have been doing this job for 11 years now and I hope things go back to how they were before this was brought in.

“We don’t know if it will work or what reaction people will have, but hopefully people will support what we are doing and others will follow.”

The change in opening times from 10pm-3am to 8.30pm-2am for the bar’s Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights started last month.

Police have been working closely with licensees to make the town’s busy nightspots in the Church Street and Victoria Road areas safer and more prosperous.

They had tried to get all premises to sign up to the 2am closure.

But each time it has failed as a small number of licensees refuse to change their hours.

Sergeant Phil Henderson, of Hartlepool Police’s licensing unit, said: “We are dedicated to reducing incidents of alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour and officers have embarked on the Respect Hartlepool campaign to urge residents to respect themselves, others and the town.

“As part of this and together with partner agencies, we consulted with licensees to discuss the possibility of a voluntary closure to 2am, with the aim of reducing incidents in the early hours.

“I am pleased that Busby’s is one of the first licensed premises to move to a closure of 2am voluntarily and welcome their support for the Respect Hartlepool campaign by making this major step forward.

“We will continue to consult with other licensees to established further interest across the town with a view to creating a safer and more vibrant night-time economy.”

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