The relaxation of traditional licensing laws was widely expected to bring serious disorder to our streets.

GERRAN GRIMSHAW went out with police in York to see how things went on the first night of the new rules.

MAYHEM on the streets was widely predicted when the Government first announced their plans to relax liquor licensing laws.

But the first night under the new regime passed off without any major incidents in York.

Under the new rules, pubs, clubs and restaurants can apply to open whenever they like.

Many York venues have applied for longer than the traditional 11am to 11pm hours. But, as reported in the Evening Press earlier this week, a significant

number are not planning to take advantage of their new hours on a regular basis.

Detective Inspector Alasdair Day said: "From a policing point of view, we have to keep an open mind. We have had set times when people leave the clubs, but now we won't have that. It could be a good thing, or it could be a bad thing."

Travelling around the city centre with the police, the streets did not look any busier than usual - though the bitter cold might have had something to do with that.

PC Ian Hughes, of the street response unit, said: "We should have 24-hour drinking, as hopefully it will stop people throwing as much down their necks as possible at 11pm. But I think tonight will be the real test of these laws."

The new regime got a mixed response from late-night revellers last night.

York University student Giles Harmer said: "Dusk, the place we usually go to, is open until 2am rather than 11pm, which is great. It means we don't have to move on anywhere else."

Beth and Jody, of Acomb, said they did not agree with 24-hour opening. But Beth added: "The bars staying open later is a good thing, because it's cheaper to stay there than go on to clubs."

Will Shaw, of Clifton, said: "I think it will have an effect on bar workers and owners - they already work long enough hours."

Student Belle Robinson said: "We're standing at a taxi rank at normal closing time, doesn't that say everything?"

Her friend, Anna Richards, added: "It's a good idea at a weekend, but not during the week, as it will encourage people to go to work with a hangover - or call in sick."

Heather Hodgson, of York, said: "It won't make any difference as far as I'm concerned - I won't get any more drunk than usual. But it is a good thing for people who want to come out later - at say 9pm - and then stay out later. You can only drink as much as you can drink."

Updated: 09:31 Friday, November 25, 2005