Alf had never planned visiting Oldham. But if someone had invited him, and offered to pay the fare – well, he might have been tempted.
But no longer.
Not since learning that, under plans drawn up by Liberal Democrat-controlled Oldham Council, all 22 pubs in the town centre will have to comply with barmy new rules requiring customers to stand in queues to get a drink.
Apparently, the 2003 Licensing Act allows British police and trading standards officers to apply for variations in a pub licence if there is concern about drink-related violence and disorder.
And so –
Drinkers in pubs are to be told to stand in a queue and banned from ordering more than two drinks at a time at the bar.
Rope barriers similar to those used in shops and post offices will be installed to keep customers in line.
The plan has been proposed following concern over disorder and violence in a town centre’s bars.
The two-drink limit is intended to curb binge-drinking and stop customers ordering large amounts of alcohol.
In addition, customers would not be allowed to drink while queuing.
Alf is pleased to say not everybody is happy with these arrangements, and critics are saying the ‘nanny state’ restrictions will end the convivial British tradition of drinkers buying rounds for their friends.
Mark Hastings, of the British Beer And Pub Association, said: ‘We have no problem with tackling problem drinking but this is not the way to go about it.
‘These measures are costly, unnecessary and totally disproportionate at a time when around 40 pubs are closing every week.
‘People aren’t going to want to drink if they have to queue up as if they’re in the post office.’
Most variations of the legislation involve restrictions on opening hours.
But Oldham has come up with its own ideas and probably is the first authority in Britain to propose a queuing system.
It’s an idea that won’t be imported to Eketahuna – not while Alf’s got anything to say about it.