The Loneliest Jukebox

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Policeman in the Hammersmith Palais

Opponents of more liberal licensing laws said they would lead to public disorder, if not full-blown social collapse. In fact the opposite is the case. The London Evening Standard reports that under the new rules 46 cases of violence, affray and drugs in 2005 is sufficient to close down the famous venue immortalised by the Clash. (See Ross Lydall, 'Fights and drugs may spell end for Palais', 2 March 2006: p.22). When I was working doors in Sheffield, it sometimes seemed as if we got that many incidents every night. I exaggerate only slightly; Steve Cowens' book Blades Business Crew gives an account of just how much mayhem there was back then. Under the new 'continental' laws on drinking, the police get to influence local authorities by pushing for the closure of the venues they dislike. New Labour promised us a European-style Licensing Act: they forgot to say authoritarian Belarus was the part of Europe they had in mind.

Still with the anti-social behaviour debate, the Barking and Dagenham Recorder quotes me as saying the debate itself can make the problem worse ('Beware happpy slap copycats' [sic], 02 March 2006). Fair comment.


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