TORY students from the University of York have been branded 'totally irresponsible' for encouraging people to drink 14 pints of beer in the city today.

A 12-hour 'Hagueathon', intended to match the alleged drinking exploits of Foreign Secretary William Hague when he was a teenager, comes after three young people have drowned in the city's rivers at the end of city centre nights out this year.

A spokesman said on the website "Legend has it that, as a teenager in 1980s Yorkshire, the now Foreign Secretary William Hague consumed 14 pints of beer in a day. Amazed, impressed, and seething with jealousy, the York Tories had an idea...

"So began the tradition, an event known and replicated throughout the universities and Conservative Future branches of the UK and beyond. We attempt to match Mr Hague's efforts in 12 hours - 14 pints, beer, cider or ten large glasses of wine. Dead easy."

But the mother of Megan Roberts, who drowned in the Ouse in January after a night out, said she felt quite frustrated by the event. Jackie Roberts said she did not object to people going out and having fun, but said: "Having just lost my daughter, I find it quite upsetting. I feel it's insensitive."

And Cllr Linsay Cunningham-Cross, Labour cabinet member for health and community engagement on City of York Council, said: "This is totally irresponsible and flies in the face of everything we've been trying to do around creating a pleasant and diverse night time economy, and all the river safety work which has all been about raising awareness of the dangers of consuming too much alcohol."

Her Cabinet colleague Cllr Tracey Simpson-Laing said: "As taxpayer-aware political activists, these students should pay a visit to A&E and see how much this kind of ‘fun’ is costing the taxpayer every week. "

But Tory group leader Cllr Chris Steward said the ‘Hagueathon’ had run many times before with no injuries, arrests, fights or damage. "It is friends socialising and a small minority may drink 14 pints, but most will not," he said.

"This event should be seen in a context of broader student drinking that so many of us have done and the far worse drinking and behaviour York often sees from hen and stag parties or team social events."