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Battle lines drawn in war on alcohol pricing between Gloucester and Cheltenham

By The Citizen  |  Posted: April 27, 2014

By Nick Webster

2039578

Some bars in Eastgate Street, above, claim their takings have plummeted on the once busy student night on Wednesdays.

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BATTLE lines have been drawn in the war on alcohol pricing as Gloucester bars claim they are haemorrhaging cash to competition in Cheltenham.

Some bars in Eastgate Street claim their takings have plummeted on the once busy student night on Wednesdays.

With many nightspots in the city agreeing to a minimum responsible price agreement, students looking for a cheap night out have fled to nearby Cheltenham instead. There it is claimed shots are being given away for huge discounts to entice drinkers in.

Justin Hudson, owner of Butlers Bar and chairman of the Gloucester branch of the Licensed Victuallers Association, has called for Cheltenham bars to join their responsible pricing to create a “level playing field” for all.

“In general, Eastgate Street has been obscenely quiet in recent months and that is a worry,” he said. “We have gone from taking £5,000 on Wednesday nights to less than £1,000.

“Three quarters of trade now goes to Cheltenham, with some bars there sponsoring buses to take people back to Gloucester. Cheltenham bars operate a cut-throat market, with very cheap drinks promotions.

“People can go and drink for free in some bars and that is damaging bars in Gloucester. There is no longevity in 80p drinks from a business perspective and it is irresponsible.”

Andy Cars private hire taxi firm told the latest Nightsafe meeting the number of Gloucester fares on a Wednesday night has fallen from 175 to less than 60 between 6pm to midnight. Businesses in Gloucester’s evening economy have been urged to up their game to help attract more people into the city at night.

Nightsafe chairman Jennie Dallimore said: “We need to improve our evening economy offerings. To help that, we need to operate on a level playing field with Cheltenham.”

PC Mark Mansfield, night-time economy enforcement officer in Gloucester, said the city layout in Cheltenham makes it a different proposition for drinkers.

He said “Having visited Cheltenham for a week to assess the nightlife there, it was clear to see it was far busier there than it is in Gloucester. The clubs are more spaced out. In Gloucester, they are closer to takeaways, that creates problems with disorder.”

Businesses in Cheltenham were approached for comment, but failed to respond.

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7 comments

  • jackson99  |  April 28 2014, 3:48PM

    Well the city is paying for bollards, having the road closed, better street lighting and a alley closed and still the bars and clubs are not satisfied. Plus not eveybody wants to go out on the weekend and just drink and then buy a kabab - maybe we need a better nightime ecomomy

  • jas37  |  April 27 2014, 9:28PM

    Apothegm, It depends which way you look at it. If we want a lively night time economy the situation in Cheltenham could be seen as a virtuous cycle. If you don't like to see people enjoying themselves you could perhaps see it as a vicious cycle. Personally I would prefer not to see our City Centre leaking huge amounts of money to a Town a few miles up the road but I am aware that not all would agree.

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  • Apothegm_  |  April 27 2014, 1:21PM

    @jas37: is your "virtuous cycle" in fact a "vicious circle"?

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  • jas37  |  April 26 2014, 9:01PM

    Whizzo, If you think Cheltenham is clean and tidy at night I can only assume you haven't been there for a few years. The big advantage Cheltenham does have is that there is a far greater number of Students based in the Town. The result is a sort of virtuous cycle. More Students= more Bars etc to suit that then attracts more Students and younger people in general and so on. It's just another example of Cheltenham sucking the money from the Gloucester area. The Quays has helped greatly with the new Cinema and Restaurants (I understand takings at some of the Restaurants at the Brewery in Cheltenham have reduced considerably) but there's a long way to go to address the leakage down the Golden Valley. What's the point of ruling out drinks promotions if the opposition up the Road still doing them, it just helps them steal the Customers.

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  • Whizzo  |  April 26 2014, 7:50PM

    You have only got to look at Eastgate Street to see why trade is bad!! Grubby, unenticing and the only road in Gloucester with a rough choice of places to drink. Cheltenham, clean, tidy with an abundance of places to drink that are not all in one grubby little road. I thought it was called a competitive market place?? if you choose to set higher more responsible prices then expect the market place/competition to give you the 2 fingers!! at least stop moaning and make it more attractive to people then they may be happy to pay higher prices.

  • Richardburton  |  April 26 2014, 7:45PM

    You need to look at ... How do the students get to cheltenham and safely back home to Gloucester. You need to offer the customers something different from Cheltenham. Prices need to be the same as Cheltenham. A gimmick every week, dress up as , a game of bingo , to gain enrty name 3 things beginning with A , get to choose the first piece of music after 9pm, that sort of thing! Ask customers what they want!!

  • Apothegm_  |  April 25 2014, 7:38PM

    "In general, Eastgate Street has been obscenely quiet in recent months and that is a worry." Thus speaks a bar owner and the chairman of the Gloucester branch of the Licensed Victuallers Association. We are having an alley closed, Eastgate Street blocked off on Friday and Saturday nights, and hugely-expensive bollards installed. Clearly someone can never be satisfied.

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