Pubs call time on Happy Hour

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The Independent Online

Happy Hour promotions are to be banned in thousands of pubs across the country in a bid to combat binge-drinking and anti-social behaviour.

The British Beer and Pub Association says cheap alcohol sales including drinking games will be banned by its 32,000 members.

The move is aimed at cutting the cost of excessive drinking in British pubs, which the Government claims sets the country back £20 billion a year.

At present, UK pubs alone invest more than £60 million in door staff, CCTV and general customer security every year.

Mark Hastings, spokesman for the British Beer and Pub Association, told the Daily Mirror that cheap time-limited alcohol deals which encourage rapid drinking had "no place in the industry".

"We're determined to stamp them out," he said. "With the backing of the Government, police and licensing authorities we aim to ensure that all pubs operate to standards of corporate and community social responsibility."

It is understood that all pubs owned by Carlsberg, Heineken, Scottish & Newcastle, Youngs, Theakston and Diageo are joining the campaign. The All Bar One, Slug & Lettuce and Pitcher & Piano groups are also taking part.

The association has called for a ban on all Happy Hour promotions, including a £10 drink-all-you-can fee at the door.

A spokesman added: "Schemes that encourage people to drink too much too quickly are out."

A Home Office spokesman said the Government continued to support schemes to end "speed drinking".

"The Government supports the drinks industry in working towards ending promotions which encourage speed drinking, including all-you-can-drink and other Happy Hour sales," he said.

"We welcome the British Beer and Pub Association's positive engagement with this issue."

Breweries today spoke out in support of the ban, and the call for others to follow suit.

James Arkell, managing director of the Swindon-based Arkells Brewery, which is a member of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: "We do not condone excessive drinking, which is anti-social and can be damaging to health.

"We encourage our landlords to take a responsible attitude, because we all prefer our customers to enjoy the civilised and sociable atmosphere that our pubs provide.

"And we also look forward to hearing that supermarkets are following our lead with the banning of cheap, promotional drinks offers."