Bizarre drinking rules escape me

Last Saturday I visited the Old Town and find it difficult to understand the manner in which the businesses with a premises licence are forced to operate with regard the consumption of alcohol.

I was astonished that the practice of public houses having to remove all tables and chairs at 9pm whilst forbidding the consumption of alcohol outside the premises continues. Whilst that restriction is placed on public houses, immediately next door, throughout the length of George Street, there are restaurant customers sitting and standing outside the premises consuming alcohol, bearing mind of course that a number of the public houses also have a catering facility.

Where is the level playing field for businesses in that scenario? It is clearly non-existent and places a great disadvantage on the licensed trade which has taken a tremendous battering in recent years leading to the closure of thousands of pubs throughout the UK.

The situation was brought about a few years ago by a combination of the police and Hastings Borough Council’s environmental health department. Is it not time to redress the situation by re-visiting the decision made then to ensure that all licensed premises in the Old Town have the same opportunities to operate and build their businesses.

I spoke with some tourists and they were completely baffled as to why they were not allowed to sit outside and enjoy what was a beautiful evening and then, to rub salt into the wound, could not venture outside of the premises other than to smoke, in my opinion an utterly stupid and ridiculous situation.

JOE O’RIORDAN

Treasurer - Licenced Hospitality Business Group (LHBG)