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.