Please see below a roundup of this weekend’s newspapers: 24-hour drinking was wrong, admits Labour’s spin king A decision by Tony Blair’s government to roll out 24-hour drinking was a mistake that has fuelled a frightening alcohol crisis among Britain’s middle classes, the former premier’s right-hand man admitted yesterday. Alastair Campbell, one of the architects of New Labour, conceded his party “might have got it wrong” when it introduced all-day licensing in 2005 – and he said David Cameron should now consider reversing the move. Instead of creating a new “continental café culture” as Mr Blair had hoped, he said it simply increased the availability of cheaper supermarket booze and helped kill off thousands of pubs where alcohol was traditionally more tightly regulated. The former director of Downing Street communications said it had also contributed to a new drinking culture in which middle class professionals live in denial about their alcohol dependency, in particular wine at home. Mr Campbell said the problem was now so deep that Mr Cameron, who last week described binge-drinking as one of the scandals of our society, should consider radical reforms. These could include raising the legal age for drinking from 18 to 21, looking at minimum pricing or raising duties and restoring the traditional role of the pub. He also said the Coalition could learn the lessons of Labour’s “successful” anti-smoking legislation, particularly around advertising. The recovering alcoholic made his comments in an interview with the Sunday Express in which he talked about his own return to moderate drinking after spending more than a decade drink-free. He is fronting a BBC Panorama documentary, Britain’s Hidden Alcoholics, tomorrow night when new figures will show that thousands of Britons a year are dying of alcohol-related liver disease, with a major rise in the number of women victims. The documentary features medical experts, one of whom, Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chairman of the UK Alcohol Health Alliance, also laments the decline of the pub. Mr Campbell urged the Prime Minister not to miss the problem of middle class alcoholics by concentrating on “chasing easy headlines” tackling the issues of a binge-drinking youth. He said Britain was in a love affair with wine, with 1.6 billion bottles drunk every year. Much of that is done at home where people believe they do not have a problem, he said. In the documentary, he remarks: “I must admit that the Labour government I worked for might have contributed to our alcohol crisis.” That decision was taken in 2005 after Mr Campbell had left Downing Street but he told the Sunday Express: “The idea had been around for a long time. We were trying to signal that we could change the culture but I never bought that because of this country’s history. When you think about Britain with the gin epidemic and other things, we are a drinking nation. I certainly articulated my views.” The Sunday Express ’Decline of pubs helps fuel binges' A leading expert on liver disease, says he “regrets” the decline of the British pub because they might help prevent binge-drinking. With pubs closing at the rate of 16 a week, Professor Sir Ian Gilmore tells Alastair Campbell in the Panorama documentary: “They do provide a social milieu, particularly in rural areas, and drinking is controlled to some extent and those controls aren’t there at home.” Sir Ian is chairman of the UK Alcohol Health Alliance, a union of more than 30 medical bodies, charities and health campaigners set up to tackle alcohol misuse. Mr Campbell said: “The Government has to work out its alcohol strategy and objectives. If you lament the loss of the pub, one objective would be to help the rural pub, and maybe the inner-city pub, do better. A lot of that will be down to how they run their own business but there will be issues such as the cost of televisions and televising sport in pubs. A lot of pubs can’t afford it. Is that an area for government? I don’t know but saving the pub could be in the context of framing an overall alcohol/health strategy.” The Sunday Express Lap dancing clubs making a mint after overhaul Spearmint Rhino, the lap dancing chain, has finally turned a profit in the UK after many years as a loss making business. UK vice president John Specht has revealed he made £800,000 profit in 2011 on turnover of £9m after a root and branch review of costs at his five UK clubs. He achieved savings of up to 50% by changing everything from vendors to the staff. The overhaul enabled him to reverse a loss of about £150,000 in 2010. He said: “We have trimmed the fat and are on an upward trend.” Specht intends to double the number of UK clubs to a dozen and has one in the pipeline already. Specht said his biggest headache was new legislation giving local councils the power to grant licences for clubs and pubs to operate as strip joints. The Sunday Express Clubs up for grabs Tiger Tiger nightclubs and Balls Brothers wine bars could be about to change hands in a deal worth up to £130m. Novus Leisure, which owns the two chains, has been put on the block by Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland. They took control in 2009 in a debt-for-equity swap that largely wiped out the previous owner Cognetas, a private equity firm. Barclays and RBS have hired Rothschild, the investment bank, to find a new backer willing to bankroll an expansion plan. Novus runs 52 bars and clubs, most of them in London. Barclays and RBS have not yet decided whether they will continue to own stakes in the company after a new backer is found. They may decide to retain some equity interest to benefit from future growth. They hope the group can double in size over the next few years. Last year, the banks held sale talks with Duke Street, the buyout firm, but the deal failed at the first hurdle. It is not clear whether Duke Street would want to resurrect its interest. The Sunday Times Vulture funds to seize control of Travelodge Two aggressive American hedge funds are planning to seize control of Travelodge as the huge budget hotel chain scrambles to raise cash. The company is buckling under a mountain of debt. It has six weeks to raise £60m or it could face administration. Two New York hedge funds, Avenue Capital and Golden Tree Asset Management, are expected to step in with the money in return for control of the business. Travelodge has 470 hotels in Britain, Ireland and Spain employing 6,000. It is owned by Dubai International Capital (DIC), a private equity form backed by the Gulf state. Although it is said to be trading well, bankers said it was the latest example of a company struggling with debts loaded on to it during the buyout boom. The Sunday Times £4bn losses for bailed-out banks Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland, the banks bailed out by the government at the height of the financial crisis, will this week reveal combined losses of at least £4bn. The deficit will revive fears that taxpayers will have to wait several more years before recouping their £66bn investment. Britain’s continuing economic slump, coupled with the eurozone debt crisis, have hammered both banks and killed off hopes of a speedy return to the private sector, The Sunday Times Test-tube burger for £220,000 – no fries Scientists believe the commercial production of “test-tube hamburgers”, grown in the laboratory from stem cells taken from cows, may be possible within a year. Mark Post, professor of vascular physiology at Maastrict University, where burger meat with muscle cells identical to those found in real meat is being grown, said: “We are in the process of growing a first hamburger from bovine stem cells.” The Sunday Times Magners cider maker set to snub Dublin market The owner of Magners Irish Cider and Tennent’s Lager is looking at moving its main listing from Dublin to London as the Emerald Isle’s financial status faces a fresh threat. C&C Group’s chief executive, Stephen Glancey, is understood to have sounded out leading investors about the plan, which would make the Euro790m-turnover group the third major Irish company to switch operations to the Square Mile since December. One shareholder said: “This is really reflecting the view that Ireland is now a secondary shell. London would bring more liquidity with more investors and a broader audience.” The building materials giant CRH and the convenience food group Greencore, which, like C&C, were part of Dublin’s benchmark ISEQ20 index, have already switched. C&C has a secondary listing in London but about 70% of its shares are traded in Ireland. The Independent on Sunday Heineken drops S&N pension talks Heineken has closed the door to negotiations with tens of thousands of Scottish & Newcastle pensioners who claim they were unfairly treated by the Dutch brewing giant after its 2008 takeover of their former employer. Jean-Francois van Boxmeer, chief executive of Heineken, said the company has done its “fair share” for S&N pensioners despite claims that it reneged on a promise at the time of the deal to peg annual pension increases to inflation. The pensioners have asked the House of Commons’ Business Innovation and Skills select committee to review their case this spring as part of a wider inquiry into the takeover of British companies by foreign firms. Mr van Boxmeer has agreed to give evidence if called by the committee but insisted the company would not change its position. It argues that increases have always been “discretionary”. The fund inherited from the S&N deal was running at a deficit of £570m in 2009, but according to the latest valuation un July 2011, the shortfall has fallen to about £349m due to company contributions and better than expected investment returns. The Telegraph on Sunday Taxpayers may check into Jurys hotels UK taxpayers could end up owning a stake in hotels group Jurys Inn under plans being considered to write down up to £250m of the company’s debt. Royal Bank of Scotland, which is 83% state-owned, is understood to be weighing up a debt-for-equity swap to help the hotel chain restructure £652m of debt, The Telegraph on Sunday Cobra beer set for comeback after disaster It was a hit among discerning beer drinkers and earned founder Karan Bilimoria a peerage, but Cobra beer plunged into administration in 2009 leaving creditors £75m out of pocket. Now, three years after it was saved by Carling brewer Molson Coors, a marketing campaign aims to catapult Cobra into the top division of British beer brands. On Thursday, Bilimoria and Adrian Davey, managing director of Cobra Beer Partnership – a joint venture between Molson Coors and Bilimoria – will launch a TV ad campaign, directed by Trevor Beattie McGuinness Bungay, Bilimoria has pledged to invite unsecured creditors to share in the upside of the new venture. The Mail on Sunday Westfield London will reclaim its crown Westfield London is already one of the biggest shopping centres in Europe, but it appears that the White City giant may not be big enough. Hammersmith & Fulham Council has granted outline planning permission to the Australian company that developed the mall to push ahead with a £1bn extension. It is one of three huge schemes in the capital to have been granted planning permission, along with projects in Earls Court and Battersea. Westfield London instantly became one of the capital’s most celebrated shopping venues when it opened close to Shepherd’s Bush Green in October 2008, although its thunder was stolen later by Westfield Stratford, the developer’s even bigger mall, at almost 1.9m sq ft, bordering the Olympic Park in East London. Hammersmith & Fulham has backed Westfield’s proposal to develop another half-million sq ft of new restaurant facilities and 1,552 homes. The shopping space will be added directly to the existing shopping centre on Wood Lane, taking the size of the mall to more than 2m sq ft. The Times, Saturday Loss of faith in bank lending Banks are no longer the first port of call for small businesses seeking to raise funds, a survey has found. According to research by Huddlebuy.co.uk, a daily deals site for start-ups, 65% of the 1,000 small businesses surveyed believed they would have to find alternative sources of financing for 2012. In the face of the Project Merlin agreement between the government and the UK’s biggest banks missing its lending target by just over £1bn, entrepreneurs increasingly feel they have to look elsewhere for funds, the survey suggests. Its results also revealed that almost three-quarters of entrepreneurs aged 18 to 34 had lost faith in the possibility of securing a bank loan – as had 70% of 35 to 54 year-old entrepreneurs questioned. FT Weekend Micro-businesses expect to fail One in four companies with fewer than 10 employees does not expect to still be in business by 2014, according to a report from Warwick Business School. The report, commissioned by Capital One, the consumer lender and credit card group, and compiled by Francis Greene, associate professor of enterprise at Warwick, also revealed that one in six of these “micro-businesses” expected to go under by the end of the year. FT Weekend Unsure, but still hiring Mid-sized entrepreneurs are doubtful about the UK’s short-term economic future, but remain positive about the prospects for their own companies, according to the Investec Entrepreneur Confidence Index. Sixty-three per cent of 31 respondents, who had interests in one or more UK businesses with turnover in excess of £1m, reported that they were looking to hire staff – despite their fears for the economy. FT Weekend ’Inadequate publicity’ slows take –up of business rate relief Accountants have attacked local authorities for failing to “properly publicise” small business rate relief, losing entrepreneurs an estimated £400m a year – double the amount of just four years ago. Alan Woods, director at Woods Squared, a Wirral-based accountancy firm, said: “In our experience, most businesses don’t even know what the small business rate relief is, and those that do either get it automatically or don’t appreciate how easy it is for them to actually apply for it.” FT Weekend Buy-out chiefs drawn into the fray over bonuses Private equity titans’ hopes that the public furore over bonuses would be confined to bankers were dashed this week when demands to raise taxes for buy-out chiefs were heard on both sides of the Atlantic. One of the most influential fund investors called on US buy-out managers to stop opposing a tax break that lets them pay the 15% capital gains rate on profit sharing schemes instead of the 35% top marginal income rate. “General partners [in private equity groups] should recognise that tax treatment of their income has become indefensible,” Joe Dear investment chief of Californian pension funds Calpers, said. His words carry weight as Calpers is a leading investor in private equity funds. FT Weekend Butcher gets the chop over foie gras scandal Selfridges in London has parted company with its “celebrity” butcher Jack O’SHea after he was caught using a codeword to sell banned foie gras to customers under the counter. The store announced that Mr O’Shea, who supplies many leading London restaurants and is widely regarded as one of the finest butchers around, finished there on Thursday. The Independent, Saturday