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Britain Mulls Extending Pub Hours

July 21, 1998

LONDON (AP) _ More time to drink might not be the obvious solution to public drunkenness, but a government panel says England and Wales might ease the problem by keeping city pubs open 24 hours a day.

The usual 11 p.m. closing hour causes trouble, said Allan Charlesworth, assistant chief constable for West Yorkshire Police and a member of the Better Regulations Task Force.

``People spill out onto the streets. These people have probably downed two or three beers rather rapidly. They want fast food, they are queuing for nightclubs and taxis and it ends up with disorder,″ he said.

Task force chairman Lord Haskins said he saw no reason why pubs in city centers should not be open 24 hours.

``In the West End of London it seems quite reasonable to me for pubs to stay open 24 hours a day, but if it was in remote Wiltshire a pub with bugles blowing throughout the night would cause a nuisance,″ he said.

Changes would require legislation by Parliament, and the government made no immediate commitments on implementing the report.

Eric Appleby, director of Alcohol Concern, said later hours might harm some people. ``There are a lot of people who go out to drink as much as they can and would just treat it as more time to drink in,″ he said. ``We have to move away from binge drinking where people go out twice a week and drink as much as they can to make up for the rest of the week.″

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