Saturday, March 04, 2006

Last orders

When 24-hour licensing passed, I envisioned happy nights drinking leisurely cocktails, exiting bars and clubs at an hour more compatible with the cosmopolitan vibe one might expect from "the original modern city." I imagined, oh, I don't know, setting off home after a night out without having to fight my way through a drunken herd of yawping, half-naked souls all simultaneously trying to snag a taxi, eat a kebab, be sick, pick a fight and get off with some luckless stranger. Not that there's anything wrong with any of the above - it'd just be nice if everyone didn't get let out at the same (unreasonably early) time.

But official-type people fear change, and my 24-7 dreams have come to diddly-squat. So it was with great interest that I read in Manchester Online this morning that the first 24-hour drinking license has been granted to ... Cornerhouse. Apparently, the police have been opposing every application, no matter where, on the grounds that late opening will disturb residents, increase crime and generally bring about the eve of destruction. But the council approved Cornerhouse, of all places. Why?

A council spokesman said: "The Cornerhouse is one of Manchester's key cultural hubs and its 24-hour license is clearly linked to its function as a cinema and the many other events that are held there.
It is a well-run establishment which recognises that public safety is essential and is very clear about how crime and disorder and public nuisance will be

Hmmm.... want me to translate that for ya?: "The Cornerhouse is frequented by a well-educated, affluent older clientele who like to watch movies with subtitles. These people know when to stop drinking and who are unlikely to do anything untoward in the wee hours that might make us regret this decision."

I like the Cornerhouse and go there lots, but something about this seems kind of classist and unfair to me. I can think of many other bars and clubs who would actually benefit a lot more from a 24-hour license. And what's the point of having 24-hour licensing if you're not going to use it? It'll be kinda funny though if word gets around about the late license and the C-house starts getting invaded by likkered-up riot boys looking for a late-night snootful.


Stephen Newton said...

I think you've missed the whole point of 24 hour licences. It's only hysteric opponents of the new laws that thought pubs and clubs might open that long in significant numbers.

The idea is that bars should be able to open as when their owners decide, rather than some silly law designed to keep munitions workers sober during WWI. That means it will come down to when there's enough demand for it to profitable, amongst other things.

Cornerhouse is using the law exactly as intended. Over time, opening times will begin to vary to better suit the city. That will require a culture shift, and such change doesn't happen overnight.

Mr Pretzels said...

To be fair to the Police they sorta have to complain about every application to extend licencing hours, because of the shite they would get in if they don't and it all goes horribly wrong. As a barman I have little sympathy for them and might have more if they actually turned up on the same day when you call them for back up. The Crescent in Salford apparentley has a 24 hour licence too........

Kate Feld said...

Stephen, I think you misread the tone of my post. I didn't actually expect that loads of bars would be open all night overnight, but wrote what I did more for, erm, comedic effect.

And Mr. Pretzels, yes you're right the police probably did have to complain. I'm just impatient ... I moved here from a city where you can get dinner at 4 am and then go rollerskating - and I miss late-night culture.