PARTY-GOERS in Gloucester might see it as a dream come true – a delivery service that brings beer, wine and cigarettes to your front door.
The new business, called Alcorunner, offers a late night booze and tobacco delivery service between 8pm and 7am. Owner Ben Tavener started a similar business in Bristol three years ago where it proved a big success and he said trade in Gloucester has been booming.
He said: “It is like ordering a pizza, it is so easy. We have customers ordering a couple of bottles of wine for a night in to spending hundreds for house parties. People have tried to do this before but not on this scale. Our focus is on customer service, quick delivery and reasonable prices.”
But concerns have been raised about the implications of 24-hour access to alcohol and underage drinking.
Justin Hudson, manager of Butlers bar, in Eastgate Street, which opens from 8.30pm to 2am, said: “As a licensee it bothers me greatly. We have a responsibility to make sure customers are over 18 and that nobody we serve is with somebody who is underage.
“House parties make that difficult. Also, will delivery men act like bar staff and decide if the customer has had enough? There are issues here.”
Ben Carter, manager of Cafe Rene, in Southgate Street, which has a 24-hour licence and opens until 3am at weekends, agreed.
He said: “We are very strict with our ID policy and I don’t know how this company is going to police making sure the alcohol isn’t being consumed by people under age. Good luck to them, but I don’t really see it working.”
Neither manager thought the business would have a negative effect on Gloucester’s evening economy, and student Oliver Somervell, 27, from Sandhurst, agreed.
He said: “The ultimate reason people go out to drink is for the social aspect. My concern is that when people are drinking at home there is no control over the amount consumed or care in place in case of an accident.”
Mr Tavener said the firm is fully licensed and operates a strict over-25 policy. Phone staff and delivery staff are trained to spot people who are over the limit.
“We are very stringent and anyone under the age of 25 will not be served,” he said.
“The point of sale is at the car and the driver does not leave the vehicle and leaves the engine on. We have a reputation to maintain and we want to make this a national brand so we will not risk serving anyone under age.”
It comes as figures released this week show the cost to the NHS of drugs dispensed to treat alcohol dependence topped £3 million in 2013.
UK spending on alcohol rose between 2009 and 2012 in real terms by 1.3% but according to reports pubs were still hit hard as drinking outside the home dropped by 9.8%.
Addiction charity Turning Point has warned that 24-hour access to alcohol can encourage people to drink more than they should.
A spokesman said: “We know alcohol misuse can affect anyone and it is important that individuals are aware of the risks and know where to seek help.
“It is important that people stay within the recommended alcohol units per day to reduce the likelihood of both short term and long term harm.”