Volume 96, Issue 20
Wednesday October 2, 2002

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Closing time: last call for alcohol

By Chris Webden
Gazette Staff

Last call may never look the same if a new initiative by London City Council is allowed to take shape.

In the wake of Homecoming weekend's horrible hit and run accident that occurred at the corner of Richmond and Picadilly Streets, city council is looking into the possibility of staggering the closing times of bars along the infamous Richmond Row, said Rob Alder, Ward 2 councillor and chairman of the city's Environment and Transportation Committee.

"I have noticed for some time now that there is a great potential for motor vehicle and pedestrian incidents along the Richmond Row," Alder said, adding the massive group of drunken students emerging from the bars at 2 a.m. has the potential to become extremely dangerous.

According to Alder, at the next ETC planning meeting, scheduled for Oct. 15, a liaison committee will likely be formalized whose foremost agenda will be to investigate the implementation of staggered bar closings.

Alder said the liaison committee will be made up of city councillors, Richmond area residents and Richmond Street business owners (primarily bar owners).

"Because of the sensitivity and competitiveness of the businesses, we are going to work together to find an equitable way to do it," Alder said, adding city council did not want to simply compel businesses to stagger their closings.

"We are going to work with [the businesses] and have them figure out exactly what needs to be done for this to work," he said.

Alder said there are few solutions to the problem, noting any decisions need to be based on professional opinions.

According to Paul Martin, spokesperson for the London Police Department, an investigation into staggered closing times may make the LPD's job a lot easier.

"People are going to spill out of these establishments no matter what, but drivers and pedestrians need to use common sense," Martin said, adding the area along Richmond Row is patrolled quite heavily by uniformed officers in case there are any problems.

Paul McCart, manager of The Ceeps and Barney's, said he is not in support of the idea.

"I can tell you from experience that, [if one bar closes early], everyone is going to run down the street to the one that is still open," McCart said.


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