Sunday 25 October 2009

Welcome to Alcohol Alley

There has been a bout of predictable hand-wringing in the media in response to this Manchester Evening News report about the “alcohol alley” of Moston Lane in North Manchester, where apparently there are 22 outlets selling alcohol in a 1.4 mile stretch. The Sun and Daily Mail have both got in on the act. But surely that is typical of any urban high street – along a shorter stretch of leafy Heaton Moor Road, and the adjacent Shaw Road, in Stockport, there are maybe 4 pubs, a social club, 5 café-bars, 5 off-licences and 5 restaurants, giving roughly the same concentration. And the existence of off-licences is a reflection of demand, it doesn’t create it out of thin air.

I have to say I’m not entirely happy about the granting of alcohol licences to every two-bit newsagent, where supervision is inevitably going to be less firm than in supermarkets or specialist shops, but on the other hand we don’t want to head towards the Scandinavian model of queueing up like social outcasts at a grim outlet of the state-controlled alcohol monopoly. And isn’t the fact that three pubs on Moston Lane have closed down likely to have much more to do with the smoking ban, which has scythed through urban locals across the country? What a ridiculous comment from Bob Hill of the residents’ association that this signifies “a shift from sociable drinking to boozing in the streets” – how much of the off-trade alcohol is actually drunk on the streets as opposed to in people’s houses?


  1. Indeedy. I'm sure more people are "drinking on the streets" since the smoking ban.

  2. six of those pubs are closed!

  3. Since we're talking about excessive concentrations of alcohol outlets, there are 19 bars and restaurants in the Houses of Parliament, many of which are permanently open while the House is sitting. All, incidentally, are unlicensed.

    This may explain some of the laws we get foisted upon us.

  4. Great comment RedNev. :-)

    The article referenced brings back fond memories of the sadly deteriorating Mumbles Mile


Comments, especially on older posts, may require prior approval by the blog owner. See here for details of my comment policy.

Please register an account to comment. Unregistered comments will generally be rejected unless I recognise the author. If you want to comment using an unregistered ID, you will need to tell me something about yourself.