The first motorway pub will soon be open at a service station in Buckinghamshire. JD Wetherspoon has been granted permission to open a 24-hour bar and restaurant on the M40 at Beaconsfield at Junction 2. It has been granted a license that allows alcohol to be served seven days a week between the hours of 8am and 1am.
A number of critics have expressed their concerns over the proposed pub. “People will be tempted to drink and drive and I can’t understand how the local authority has allowed this,” Campaign Against Drink Driving founder Carol Whittingham commented. “It is just not necessary – you can buy alcohol on every street corner so why tempt people by having it at motorways as well?”
RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister was similarly bemused with the idea. “Most drivers are sensible, but you have to question a policy that encourages drivers to pull off to take a break and then offers them up a pint.”
JD Wetherspoon has said it will not be checking whether drinkers plan to drive, with a spokesman stating: “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.” It also added that much of its sales come from food, hot drinks and non-alcoholic beverages.
Alcohol is a rare fixture at service stations, but home office figures reveal at least seven other motorway service areas already serve the stuff, including the recently opened Harvester restaurant on the M1 at Donnington Park, Leicestershire.
The £2 million motorway pub will open by Christmas 2013, creating 50 jobs.
The government is currently reviewing the sale of alcohol at motorway service stations as part of its Alcohol Strategy consultation.
Figures from the Department for Transport estimate 1,570 drivers were killed or seriously injured as a result of drink-driving, 280 of which resulted in death ─ up from 250 in 2010.
While a motorway boozer may seem like a recipe for disaster, let’s not forget UK motorways are statistically some of the safest roads in the world and that pubs line almost every other road type in the UK. There’s also nothing to stop drivers from drinking in the car or before getting on a motorway.
Is it refreshing to see the responsibility is in the hands of drivers for a change, or should the government step in and keep drink out of motorway-goers? Spill the beans below.