Today at Bradford's full council meeting one councillor (from 'the party formerly known as Respect') asked a question about the 'night time economy' on Great Horton Road. Now those who know Bradford will appreciate that this is the area around the University and, it appears, there is the familiar 'students are spoiling our lovely community by enjoying themselves' campaign.
However, it seems to me that, compared to my experience thirty years ago, today's students are a more abstemious, more serious bunch:
Many seemed to be cutting back their alcohol intake - only 22 per cent of undergraduates reported drinking more than 11 units a week (equivalent to about five and a half pints of beer), compared with 28 per cent in 2010 and 33 per cent in 2008.
And dig a little deeper and we find that a third of students report that they don't drink at all and a further 40% limited the drinking to just once a week. Now there are plenty of reasons for this - partly it's the additional pressure that having big loans brings and partly it's a wider shift (non-students in this age group are a pretty sober bunch as well). However, what it does tell us, is that the old hedonistic 'party party' image of student life really doesn't describe the reality.
Yet again the lie of public health (and Daily Mail) campaigns about 'binge drinking' is revealed - most young people have neither the cash nor the inclination to drink in the manner of past generations. Despite this truth - revealed in survey after survey, study upon study - we're still told that young people are being corrupted by drink ads and offers, are 'pre-loading' with super-cheap alcohol and generally destroying their health.
Will there ever be a point when the public health folk stop the fibs about binge drinking?