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First motorway pub opens in the UK

Motorway JD Wetherspoon pub opens despite strong opposition.

The first motorway boozer has opened in the UK. The Hope & Champion is located at the Extra Motorway Service Area at junction 2 of the M40 in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.

The JD Wetherspoon pub, which reportedly cost £1million to build instead of the previously estimated £2million, will be open seven days a week between the hours of 4am and 1am. It will serve real ale from local and regional breweries.

Punters have already begun using the pub. Sky News interviewed a man who said he decided to visit on his way to work after hearing about it on the news. He ordered a beer at 9:20am but only had a few sips because he was driving.

Not everyone is pleased with the idea of giving motorway drivers access to booze. Only 12 per cent of 2,000 survey respondents in an RAC survey were pro the idea of putting pubs into motorway service stations.

“In our view this is a risky and frankly unnecessary move,” RAC head of external affairs Pete Williams commented. “The question we are struggling to answer is – of all the places to open a pub, why choose a motorway service station? The temptation to drink and drive can only be increased by easier access to alcohol.”

Road Safety charity Brake said drink-driving warnings should be made even clearer as the pub was “putting temptation in front of drivers”.

The Hope & Champion manager Steve Baldwin said locals would benefit: “The Extra Motorway Service Area, now including The Hope & Champion, primarily serves the motorway users, but its facilities are also available to the surrounding community from the local road network.”

When JD Wetherspoon was granted a licence to sell alcohol at the motorway service area it said it won’t be vetting drivers. A spokesman commented: “We don’t see any problem. We believe the majority of people that use the pub to drink will be people that aren’t driving – coach parties or people travelling with others. We won’t be asking them whether they are driving. It’s up to them.”

1,570 drivers were killed or seriously injured as a result of drink-driving in 2011, according to the Department for Transport.

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