Landlord claims ‘Dry January’ is wrecking publicans’ livelihoods

Richard Hammond , runs the Queen's Head in Ampthill
Richard Hammond , runs the Queen's Head in Ampthill

An angry Bedfordshire landlord has accused Britain’s chief medical officer of wrecking publicans’ livelihoods by urging people to give up booze for ‘Dry January’.

Bitter Richard Hammond, who runs the Queen’s Head in Ampthill, claims takings slumped by 50 per cent last month after Dame Sally Davies urged people to go on the wagon.

Many donated the money they would have spent on alcohol to charity but hard-up Richard, 55, said: “I lost about half my regulars.

“And there’s no blooming charity for landlords. Now Dry January is over, we’ll have yet more people giving up booze for Lent.

“Britain’s pubs are already struggling to survive. We don’t need Dame Sally and a bunch of miserable killjoys poking their noses in and making things worse.

“Some of these puritanical do-gooders would like to see alcohol banned altogether.

“First it was smoking, now drinking. Next they’ll try to stop us eating meat and tell us all to become vegetarians.

“Or perhaps they’ll promote Sexless September to cut the number of illegitimate births and stop the spread of venereal diseases.”

Mike Coombes, secretary of the South Bedfordshire branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), sympathised with Richard’s plight.

He said: “The pub’s not just for Christmas. We support sensible drinking but providing people don’t drink to excess there’s no need to punish yourself by completely abstaining for a whole month.”

And Professor Michael Apstein, an American gastroenterologist who writes about wine, said: “There’s no science to support that giving your liver a rest by abstaining for a month is beneficial. Nor does it make sense physiologically.

“If you think you need to take a month off, you’re either drinking too much during the rest of the year or you have a guilty conscience.”

Now that Dry January has ended, Dame Sally is backing tough new “safe limits” which recommend drinking no more than 14 alcohol units a week – equivalent to just one pint of beer a day.

She is also urging people to have two or three alcohol-free days each week to allow their livers to recover from the booze.

But not all experts agree. They claim the so-called “safe drinking limits” have no scientific backing and were just plucked out of thin air.

There is evidence that a glass or two of red wine can he good for your health and researchers have found that moderate beer drinkers have a 42 per cent lower risk of heart disease than teetotallers, while xanthohumol, a flavonoid found in the hops used to make beer, is an antioxidant which can fight cancer.