The first pub at a motorway service station in England has opened today despite intense opposition from road safety charities.
The new addition to the JD Wetherspoon chain, named the Hope and Champion, will be open seven days a week from 4am to 1am, and licensed to serve alcohol from 9am.
The company says the £1.2m development at junction two of the M40 near Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire will also serve the local area – but public health experts and charities say it offers a “ deadly temptation” to motorway users.
An RAC survey found that only 12 per cent of the public support the idea of having pubs of motorways, with around two-thirds of the 2,000 people asked saying they were actively against the practice.
Sir Ian Gilmore, Royal College of Physicians special adviser on alcohol and chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said: “I am disappointed by the decision to open a JD Wetherspoon on the M40. We are trying to prevent harm from alcohol-related traffic accidents and this sends out completely the wrong message.
Ellie Pearson of safety campaign group Brake, said: “The opening of a pub on a motorway is deeply concerning, and presents a potentially deadly temptation to drivers.
“Drink driving remains one of the biggest killers on our roads, causing devastation to families and communities every day.
“Our advice to drivers is not to have even a drop of alcohol if you are driving.”
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: ”Last year it was revealed that the number of drink-drive deaths had risen by a quarter to 290. Given this background, does opening a pub at a motorway service station send the right message?
“The majority of motorists are sensible and safe but people would be forgiven for thinking the official line from ministers is now take a break and have a pint.”
Steve Baldwin, manager of the new pub which is expected to create 120 jobs, said: “The Extra Motorway Service Area, now including The Hope and Champion, primarily serves the motorway users, but its facilities are also available to the surrounding community from the local road network.”