All-night drinking every New Year's Eve

STARTING WITH the turn of the millennium, revellers will be able to drink around the clock for every new year, the Government announced yesterday.

The Home Office said the results of a recent consultation exercise seeking views on opening hours for New Year's Eve had supported the Government's preference for an all-night relaxation of licensing hours.

Pubs and clubs will be allowed to open from 11am throughout the night on New Year's Eve, returning to normal opening hours at 11pm closing on New Year's Day. The arrangements would take effect for this year's celebrations and apply to subsequent years. Special powers would limit the opening hours of premises causing nuisance.

Pub industry leaders said the move would allow them to plan their millennium parties. Tim Hampson, spokesman for the Brewers and Licensed Retailers Association, said the owners and licensees of Britain's 61,000 public houses would be relieved that the decision had not been left until the last minute.

He said: "It's a sensible piece of deregulation, allowing pubs to open and close when they like over a 36-hour period... the good thing for people running pubs is that each and every one of them doesn't now have to go and make an individual application for a late licence."

Comments