Oldham’s violent bars on Panorama

Tonight’s Panorama – at 8.30pm on BBC1 – features reports on a huge increase in violent attacks in bars in Oldham – and what the Lib Dem council there is doing about it.

Yorkshire Street is the main drinking area in Oldham which had a 200% increase in serious violent incidents in the first four months of this year.

That’s a stabbing or an assault with intention to kill on average every Friday and Saturday night.

But the Greater Manchester town has come up with a unique way of fighting back the recent spike in alcohol-related disorder.

The council believes promotions such as 2-4-1s, drink as much as you can for £5.99, and free shots, have fuelled an atmosphere of violence.

So it decided to review the licences of each of the 22 bars and clubs that sell cut-price drinks.

They have been told that if they want to sell alcohol at less than 75p a unit – about £1.88 for a strong pint of lager – they will have to change the way they operate.

The specific plans make interesting reading:

Oldham council has come up with a model of how its bars could be forced to work if the minimum price is not adopted.

Under the new conditions, drinkers will not be allowed to approach the bar and must wait in a post office style queuing system instead.

Customers would also only be allowed to buy just two drinks at a time and outlets could be made to provide extra door staff as well as paying for police officers to watch over the bar.

Any bars or clubs that refuse to follow the council’s new blueprint, could lose their licences.

I’m a little surprised that the Licencing Act is flexible enough to lawfully let one council make changes like that in how pubs and bars operate. All my own limited experience of sitting as a sub on licencing panels suggests that councils don’t have a great amount of discretion when it comes to what and what isn’t allowed.

But what do you think? Are the measures from the Council a sensible and pragmatic response to a real problem, or an over-zealous bureaucrat’s approach to a statistical blip? And will Panorama make a balanced argument or a one-sided polemic? Tune in to find out – and post your thoughts to our comments thread.

(hat-tip to Costigan Quist for tweeting about this this afternoon.)

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BBC Question Time – LDV open thread, 23 July 2009 #bbcqt #nnbe

Tonight’s Question Time comes from Norwich, and is broadcast shortly after polls close in the Norwich North by-election.

For the Lib Dems, Baroness Shirley Williams enters the fray. She is joined by fellow peeress Baroness Warsi, writer and broadcaster Clive James and from the House of Commons, Geoff Hoon MP and George Galloway MP.

If you’re tuning in, you can join the simultanous online Twitter debate here at #bbcqt, or the LDV debate in the thread below. Meanwhile Lib Dem blogger Mark Thompson will be liveblogging events via CoverItLive at his own blog.

Finally, if you want to be amongst the first to hear the Norwich North by-election result, then make sure you follow Nich Starling on Twitter.

BBC Question Time – LDV open thread, 9 July 2009 #bbcqt

Question Time this week is the Schools Special – and that brings with it two innovations. Firstly there’s the option to watch it live at 8pm on BBC3 – hence the much earlier appearance of this post than usual; and secondly one of the panellists will be a young person to be announced on the night.

There will also be the following not-quite-so-young people joining in the debate: Andy Burnham MP, Jeremy Hunt MP, Sarah Teather MP, and Shami Chakrabarti.

As last week, we hope to have a magic Facebook window appearing here:

http://www.facebook.com/widgets/livefeed.php?app_id=115530152618&width=500&height=600

If you’re tuning in, you can join the simultanous online Twitter debate here at #bbcqt, or the LDV debate in the thread below. Meanwhile Lib Dem blogger Mark Thompson will be liveblogging events via CoverItLive at his own blog.

BBC Question Time – LDV open thread, 18 June 2009 #bbcqt

Thursday rolls around, so once again it’s time to join David Dimbleby and a glittering panel of political stars for Question Time. Batting for the Liberal Democrats this week is Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and Chair of Campaigns and Communications Edward Davey. The panel will include Labour peer Lord Falconer (since every last member of the cabinet is apparently too frit), Conservative shadow secretary for business and regulatory reform Kenneth Clarke, political commentator Polly Toynbee, and journalist and campaigner Esther Rantzen will be there to explain why a lifetime of interesting shaped fruit qualifies her for entry to Parliament.

If you’re tuning in, you can join the simultanous online Twitter debate here at #bbcqt, or the LDV debate in the thread below. Meanwhile Lib Dem blogger Mark Thompson will be liveblogging events via CoverItLive at his own blog.

Radio Alert – Phone Clegg

Eagle-eared listeners will have just heard BBC Radio 4’s consumer whingefest magazine Your and Yours announce that tomorrow’s Call You and Yours will be an opportunity for the Radio 4 listenership to quiz the Lib Dem leader.

A reasonably fair introduction told us that the recent election results were OK but could have been better; and the worrying statistic that whilst people generally like Nick Clegg when they know him, up to 30% haven’t even heard of the name.

The programme will be 12-1pm tomorrow, Tuesday, and available afterwards as a Listen Again / iPlayer item. There are details with the contact number, an email address and more here.

BBC Question Time – LDV open thread, 11 June ‘09 #bbcqt

Thursday rolls around, so once again it’s time to join David Dimbleby and a glittering panel of political stars for Question Time. This week’s programme is aired from Birmingham and the panel will include Secretary of State for Wales Peter Hain, Conservative shadow communities secretary Caroline Spelman, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne, joint secretary general of Unite Derek Simpson, and director of Global Vision Ruth Lea.

If you’re tuning in, you can join the simultanous online Twitter debate here at #bbcqt, or the LDV debate in the thread below. Meanwhile Lib Dem blogger Mark Thompson will be liveblogging events via CoverItLive at his own blog.

Question Time – open thread, 28/05 #bbcqt

Question Time returns to its previous time slot of 2240 this evening, and the BBC website tells us the panel will be:

Europe Minister Caroline Flint, Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan, Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesperson Jo Swinson, Green Party leader Caroline Lucas, UKIP leader Nigel Farage, and French businessman Pierre-Yves Gerbeau.

In the last week before the European elections, the programme is billed as a Euro special from London.  If the politicos can avoid being booed off stage merely for being politicos, there are loads of interesting ways the debate can go.  Caroline vs Caroline; Greens vs Lib Dems on who has the best environmental policy; Hannan vs Farage on whose european parliamentary party is antier than the other; and Dome running PY “Gerbil” Gerbeau on “why I’m here.”

If you’re tuning in, you can join the simultanous online Twitter debate here at #bbcqt, or the LDV debate in the thread below. Meanwhile Lib Dem blogger Mark Thompson will be liveblogging events via CoverItLive at his own blog.