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Victory in drinks campaign

Kids will no longer be able to enjoy a pint of ale on boats – thanks to a campaign by the Exeter Express and Echo.

The paper has been battling for four years to get the Government to close a loophole in the law.

Now its campaign has been vindicated with an announcement from the Home Office that a new bill would change the law to prevent youngsters buying booze while ‘at sea’.

Under current licensing laws, boats and planes can serve alcohol to anyone over the age of five years.

The Echo brought the issue to light after telling the story of a 15-year-old who was hospitalised after getting drunk on a pleasure cruise on the River Exe.

At the time, police explained that they were powerless to press charges against the boat operators because licensing laws didn’t apply to them.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott promised to close the loophole in 1999 but this is the first time formal legislation has been promised.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Our firm proposal is to bring passenger boats under the same premises licences to sell alcohol as pubs have.

“That would mean boats would have the same restrictions in regard to selling to under-18s as pubs now have. This will become legislation as soon as Parliamentary time allows.”

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