Big Eye, May 5, 2015

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The demon drink became a bit of a theme in last week’s Lynn News.

On one side of the coin we read the sad final column of a colleague who, quite plainly, has come to the end of her tether after another weekend of chaotic carnage and random drunkenness after chucking-out time in her neck of the woods (Norfolk Street) and in similar vein we’ve heard from the beer and food chain Wetherspoons who have responded to comments that their proposed new venture in Downham Market is going to result in drunken hordes surging through the streets of the town after having indulged in alcohol-fuelled excesses courtesy of the open-all-hours pub chain.

Downham’s landlords have responded in the only way they can by suggesting that the inevitable outcome from offering highly competitive prices for basic grub and drinks will be an increase in anti-social behaviour and judging by the experiences of Diane Lines (Unsworth) they may have a point.

It would only be fair to reveal that this columnist believes that the particular food and drink chain in question is operated by a responsible and considerate management who would not be where they are today unless they could demonstrate to the authorities that they had control over their premises and took their duties as landlords seriously.

However, Norfolk Street’s reputation as the place to be on a weekend if you fancy ending up face down in the gutter at four in the morning hasn’t diminished over the years and despite the landlords’ florid hyperbole …

I’m sure the last thing anyone needs in Downham is a repeat of the mayhem that has become the norm in many towns on the weekend.

There is no doubt that cheap booze also plays a hefty part in ballooning waistlines and crumbling livers and although I know that some might want to try to blame a massive pub chain for all the country’s current obesity issues there is no doubt that the catering industry offers us all a plethora of irresistible offers for cheap booze, food or other opportunities to loll in front of a screen at home.

Pubs always operated with specific licensing hours and controlled opening and closing times and woe betide a publican who kept an unruly establishment as the local bobby would be calling if the

place was still serving after last orders. Today it seems to be a free-for-all and the good reasons why pubs had those limited opening hours seems to have been forgotten in the rush to adopt the ‘continental’ way of drinking.

I’m sorry that we’ve lost one of our colleagues and I’m even sorrier that her departure has been precipitated by the excesses of a minority who, it must be said, should not be allowed to behave like this.

Maybe the time has come to take some of these pubs to task and if they are permitting or encouraging excessive and uncontrolled drinking perhaps it is going to be necessary to shut the bad ones down.

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