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JD Wetherspoon opens UK's first motorway services pub

JD Wetherspoon has opened the first pub to be sited on Britain's motorway network. The pub and restaurant starting serving alcohol at the Beaconsfield service station on the M40 in Bucks on 21 January. The pub, called the 'Hope and Champion,' is licensed to sell alcohol from 9am until 1am every day of the week. Steve Baldwin, the pub's manager, commented: "My team and I are looking forward to welcoming customers into The Hope and Champion.

JD Wetherspoon has opened the first pub to be sited on Britain's motorway network. The pub and restaurant starting serving alcohol at the Beaconsfield service station on the M40 in Bucks on 21 January. The pub, called the 'Hope and Champion,' is licensed to sell alcohol from 9am until 1am every day of the week. Steve Baldwin, the pub's manager, commented: "My team and I are looking forward to welcoming customers into The Hope and Champion. The Extra Motorway Service Area, now including The Hope and Champion, primarily serves the Motorway users, but its facilities are also available to the surrounding community from the local road network."

The pub has had a 24 hour license approved by South Buckinghamshire District Council but campaign groups have been vociferous in raising their concerns. Ed Morrow, a spokesman for the road safety charity, Brake, was typical of such responses, saying: "The opening of a pub on a motorway is a serious concern, presenting a potentially deadly temptation to drivers. Drink driving remains one of the biggest killers on our road, causing devastation to families and communities every day." He added: "It is vitally important that messages about the dangers of drink driving are as strong and obvious as possible, so drivers know it's not okay to stop off for a quick drink on their way home. Our advice is not to have a drop if you are driving."

Wetherspoon has moved to tackle such fears and has said it will include the familiar Drink Drive awareness logos on its menus at the pub. It will also remove any promotions and deals involving alcohol. Nevertheless, the public remains sceptical of the plans. An RAC survey revealed that only 12% support pubs being allowed in motorway service stations, with 64% in opposition to the idea. RAC external affairs chief, Pete Williams, said: We appreciate the vast majority of motorists drive responsibly and that alcohol is already available in shops at motorway services, but for many this decision seems to be at odds with common sense. In our view this is a risky and frankly unnecessary move. The question we are struggling to answer is, of all the places to open a pub, why choose a motorway service station?"

As Mr Williams points out, alcohol has long been available at motorway service stations in restaurants and shops. The difference appears to be that the entire focus of the Wetherspoon operation is alcohol. The controversial pub has benefited the local community, however, where the £1.8 million development has created 120 jobs.

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