Time called on 'happy hour' binge drinking

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A crackdown on pubs and bars that encourage irresponsible drinking through "happy hour" drinks promotions is being planned by the Government.

A crackdown on pubs and bars that encourage irresponsible drinking through "happy hour" drinks promotions is being planned by the Government.

A Downing Street strategy unit is recommending that, under a new licensing act, powers will be given to local councils to modify or remove the licences of landlords found to be causing anti-social or violent behaviour through cheap drinks offers.

According to The Sunday Times a Downing Street strategy unit will present its recommendations on the issue in a report later this month.

Licensing currently comes under the authority of local magistrates, who have the power to reassess a licence only when it comes up for renewal every three years.

Under the new regulations, councils will be able to take action against landlords as infringements happen.

A government source was quoted as saying: "We will make an example of licensees who are not responsible. We have no problem with happy hours as they were originally intended - to drum up business during slow times of the day - but there is too much exploitation of the system now."

Britons binge-drink more than any other Europeans, according to research published by the government strategy unit last year. Alcohol-related crime, NHS treatment and lost days at work cost the country £20m a year, it found.

The rise in binge-drinking is marked amongst young women. The Health Survey for England, by the National Centre for Social Research, found almost a third - 32 per cent - of women aged 16 to 24 drank more than 14 units a week last year. In 1997, 22 per cent exceeded 14 units a week.