Motorway Pub Opens Despite Opposition
A new £1m pub has opened at a motorway service station, in the face of fierce criticism from road safety and alcohol campaigners.
Pub chain JD Wetherspoon says The Hope & Champion will be open from 4am to 1am, seven days a week.
The venue is located in the Extra Motorway Service Area at junction 2 of the M40 in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.
The first person to order a pint was a man called Tom who told Sky News he had heard on the news that it was the first motorway pub to open so he had stopped on his way into work.
He ordered his pint at 9.20 and, when asked what he thought of the idea of selling alcohol on the motorway, he said it was "frankly ridiculous".
Tom, who was "slightly surprised" by the number of photographers on hand to record the moment, had a few sips of his pint and then put it down, saying he was driving.
It is the first pub ever to be opened at a motorway service area, and will sell real ale from local and regional brewers.
But critics say the location of the pub is "at odds" with public opinion.
The RAC said a survey of 2,000 people showed only 12% of respondents supported putting pubs into motorway service stations.
Around two-thirds said they did not agree with the move, with older drivers more likely to oppose the sale of alcohol at motorway service areas.
Only 8% of over-55s were in favour, with 71% against, while almost one in five of those aged between 18 and 34 were in support.
The RAC's head of external affairs Pete Williams said: "The public appear to be very much against the introduction of motorway pubs.
"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?
"The temptation to drink and drive can only be increased by easier access to alcohol."
But Steve Baldwin, manager of the new pub, said the venue would serve the local community.
"The Extra Motorway Service Area, now including The Hope & Champion, primarily serves the motorway users, but its facilities are also available to the surrounding community from the local road network," he said.
Sir Ian Gilmore, Royal College of Physicians special adviser on alcohol and chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said: "I am disappointed by the decision to open a JD Wetherspoon on the M40.
"We are trying to prevent harm from alcohol-related traffic accidents and this sends out completely the wrong message."
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