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P61 ‘Last drinks move later’: A news media analysis of temporal availability in Scotland
  1. Megan Cook1,2,
  2. Gemma Mitchell1,
  3. Rachel O’Donnell1,
  4. Niamh Fitzgerald1
  1. 1Institute for Social Marketing and Health, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK
  2. 2Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia


Background Later opening hours for licensed premises is associated with increased harms from alcohol, including assaults and injuries. As such, measures addressing the availability of alcohol (including temporal availability) have been identified as instrumental to reducing alcohol-related harms. Premises opening hours are governed by national legislation in Scotland which is implemented by local Licensing Boards made up of elected councillors.

Between 2017 and 2019, two different processes led to local decisions to permit later opening hours in 10 nightclubs in Glasgow (a 1-hour extension) and 40 bars in Aberdeen (up to 2 hours extension). As part of a wider mixed methods study of this natural experiment, we examine representations of the extended hours changes in the Scottish local and national news media to understand the content and evolution of public and stakeholder sentiment at the time the changes were being discussed through to and after implementation.

Methods Two separate searches were conducted in Lexis Nexis to capture media reporting on temporal availability and the licensing changes in Glasgow and Aberdeen, between January 2015 and January 2023, supplemented with hand searches of local news media publications (e.g., Glasgow Live). Descriptive content analysis was undertaken in NVivo to identify sentiment (i.e., support for or opposition to extending hours), the content of the arguments being put forward, the sources contributing to the debate and the anticipated or reported impact of the changes.

Results Preliminary searches retrieved 400 relevant articles. Findings will examine the arguments for and against the changes, as well as the evolution of support as the changes were implemented. Differences between Glasgow and Aberdeen will be examined as well as similarities in the narratives on the impact of temporal availability on the night-time economy. Given the sample period overlapped with COVID-19 restrictions which greatly reshaped the night-time economy, discourse relating to the licensing changes will be analysed separately to changes arising from COVID-19.

Conclusion Findings will be considered in light of broader debates on licensing and temporal availability in Scotland including changes arising due to COVID-19 restrictions. Implications for research and policy making on temporal availability across the UK will be discussed. It is expected that the analysis will highlight specific limitations and opportunities in Scottish licensing law that can inform future reforms in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

  • alcohol
  • licensing
  • policy

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