Calls for time on glass in bars and clubs following Manchester attacks is ‘overreaction’, claims pub industry chief

By Neil Robertson

Calls for the use of plastic drink containers following a glassing in an Altrincham bar have been slammed by a pub industry chief.

The introduction of plastic bottles and glasses following ‘individual’ incidents would be a major overreaction, the British Beer & Pub Association northern chief claimed.

However Lee Le Clercq, Regional Secretary in the north for the association, insisted that anyone involved in glassings should be locked away ‘for a very long time’ – and branded them ‘thugs’.

Mr Le Clerq spoke out against Kate Green MP’s calls for Trafford Council to promote plastic alternatives to bottles and glasses following an attack in Nicholsons last month.

He said: “Why should one incident, terrible as it is, mean that every pub and bar in Manchester should now drink out of plastic? It’s absolute nonsense.”

“For most people, drinking out of plastic is a no-no.

“You wouldn’t want to go out and spend a fortune on a restaurant or meal and eat with plastic knives and forks and plastic plates.

“There is a time and a place when plastic is appropriate, certainly in outdoor events.”

Mr Le Clercq suggested that incidents involving glass were more down to the individual than the venue.

“It’s pure thuggery and very often, a drunk thug when they wake up in the morning is a sober thug,” he said.

“Anybody who can break a glass or smash a bottle should be treated exactly the same as somebody with a knife or gun.

“They should be locked away for a very long time, no question about that.

“People who commit these sort of offences are just as guilty in the morning as they were the night before.

“The full force of the law should come down on the perpetrator.”

Ms Green, MP for Stretford and Urmston, criticised Trafford Council for ignoring her concerns after the incident at Nicholsons in the early hours of Sunday March 10.

According to The Home Office, 87,000 violent incidents involving glass happen every year in the UK – and Ms Green now thinks enough is enough.

“I wrote to the Council before Christmas to ask them to do more to promote plastic glasses and bottles, but they have so far done nothing,” Ms Green said.

She added: “We all want a good time when we go out at night but we want to keep safe as well.

“The Council should really be doing more to promote the use of non-glass alternatives.

“Many owners of licensed premises are already aware and recognise the dangers that glass can cause.

“Lots of people go out for a drink and a dance but come back with cuts and bruises.

“It would be great if a consensus could be reached to promote the use of plastic alternatives and wherever possible replace glass with plastic in venues across Trafford.”

Statistics obtained from a Freedom of Information Request revealed the extent of trouble in Manchester bars and nightclubs.

Last year, 5th Avenue topped the list for reported incidents with 542, followed closely by Tiger Tiger with 496.

All in all, police were called out to pubs, nightclubs and bars 26,000 times in 2012 – 72 times a night on average.

Trafford Councillor John Smith, who is part of the Licensing Sub-Committee, said that no resolution has been put to the committee as yet.

Mr Smith insisted that any measures to introduce plastic bottles and glasses must be carefully thought over.

“My view is that society’s the problem, not so much drinks containers. I would profoundly regret plastic vessels being used for beer- it’s not the same,” he claimed.

“But we do have to balance one factor against the other-if the severity and frequency of these incidents is escalating and no enforcement or prohibition efforts are having the desired effect, we’ve got to seriously look at it.”

A spokesman for The British Beer & Pub Association said: “It is utterly deplorable that anyone would use glass as a weapon, in any situation.

“The police and the courts need to pursue and punish the tiny minority of individuals that do.

“Wherever and whenever this is sensible, pubs and clubs should go down this road – and this is likely to include many late night bars and clubs.

“At the BBPA, we have pioneered guidance on how to assess risk. This is a sensible approach and is the best way forward.”

Picture courtesy of Shannon K, with thanks.

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