Wednesday, 2 September 2009
I wrote in to my local paper after a documentary on my town’s light life was shown on BBC1. The Panorama investigation exposed the bar area of the town as being possibly the most violent in the country. However, many people on Facebook complained that it was one-sided and gave the town a bad name. I felt it necessary to remind people of their responsibilities. Here’s my letter, published in the Oldham Evening Chronicle, which they printed pretty much word-for-word.
The recent Panorama documentary on Yorkshire Street, followed by numerous readers’ letters, have failed to hit the nail on the head with regards to the town’s problems.
Even though alcohol is available- sometimes at low prices- in the town, it should not be regarded as the primary cause of the problem. Here’s why:
1) Cheap booze is available through off-licences. Where’s the documentary on them?
2) If you watch the troublemakers on Yorkshire St, a lot of them drink a particular brand known to be ‘reassuringly expensive’- far from the price of the drinks on offer.
3) In Manchester’s Oxford Road, by comparison, students can take advantage of cheap drinks every night of the week. I was a student a few years ago. I saw one fight on Oxford Road in three years. And regrettably, I went out a LOT.
4) It is not uncommon in Oldham to see trouble occur around 9pm- a time when people are only just starting to drink.
5) Most importantly, the only people who are allowed to drink in these bars are ADULTS. Being an adult means taking responsibility for your own actions. If you are violent after a few drinks, it is your fault. Not the booze. Not the bars’.
The solution in Oldham is not to hike up prices (thereby punishing well-intentioned, careful drinkers- and yes, there are a few), but to reprimand the people causing the problems who don’t want to act like adults. We could also educate youngsters in school on the issue of alcohol, as it will undoubtedly be a common theme for the rest of their lives- just like it is for most adults today.