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Pub at a service station – Clarkson criticises plans

Plans by JD Wetherspoon to open a pub at a service station along the M40 have been criticised by broadcaster Jeremy Clarkson.

The pub chain intends to open a new establishment at junction 2 at Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, which will have a licence permitting it to sell alcohol from 08:00 until 01:00 the following morning seven days a week.

Clarkson, who hosts BBC1’s motoring show Top Gear, commented: “As it’s a motorway, you’re bound to be driving and if you’re driving it means you can only have one drink.

“The problem is that when it comes to drink, one is ever enough. My argument with the pub thing is no journey is that far not to be able to wait for a drink – it’s stupid.”

JD Wetherspoon’s plans have already been criticised by a number of prominent organisations, including the Alcohol Health Alliance at the Royal College of Physicians.

Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the body, said opening a bar at a service station sends out “completely the wrong message” and could undermine efforts to prevent harm from alcohol-related road accidents.

He insisted that licensing regulations in the UK need to be reviewed in order to ensure there are tighter controls on the availability of alcohol, which may call into question whether a pub at a service station is a good idea.

Road safety charity Brake has also admitted that it is concerned about the opening of a pub on the motorway and insisted that safeguards must be put in place in order to warn patrons about the dangers of drink-driving.

A spokesman for the charity said the move will put temptation straight in front of drivers, which means any warnings about the effects of alcohol need to be “extra clear”.

However, the official stressed that the best advice to follow is not to drink any amount of alcohol before getting behind the wheel.

Tim Martin, chairman of JD Wetherspoon, has defended the move, arguing that opening a pub at a service station is an exciting development that reflects the firm’s long-standing tradition of being innovative.

He said he hopes the establishment at Beaconsfield will be the first of many Wetherspoons outlets on the UK’s motorway network.

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