Beer Industry

York council to rule on whether to allow alcohol at axe-throwing centre

Show caption An axe embedded in a target. Police say the Hilt has no way of knowing if someone has been drinking already before taking part. Photograph: Jill Mead/The Guardian

York

Police and council officials are against idea, citing the ‘risk of harm to staff and other customers’

Mark Brown North of England correspondent

Vikings, history tells us, loved a party and would almost certainly have drunk plentiful amounts of beer and mead if there was an axe-throwing contest.

Whether their 2022 imitators should follow suit is another question.

Councillors in York will next week have to decide whether customers at an axe-throwing centre in the city should be allowed to consume alcohol during sessions. Police and council officials are against the idea, citing the “risk of harm to staff and other customers”.

Urban axe throwing has become hugely popular in recent years with venues opening up across the UK. The Guardian’s Rhik Samadder, describing the experience, said “basically it’s darts, with axes”, with participants coached to throw axes at a wooden board where a bullseye wins the most points.

Owners of the Hilt in York, which offers “axe throwing for aspiring Vikings”, have applied to the city council for a relaxation in its licence that would allow it to serve a limit of two alcoholic drinks for each customer during a session. The two drinks would not be spirits.

“Alcohol will not be sold to any customer suspected of being intoxicated,” the application states.

It adds: “There will be a one or two drink limit depending on how many drinks have been purchased with the booking. This way axe throwers will not be able to consume enough to reach any dangerous level of intoxication in the 75 minutes of their session.”

That assertion is questioned in the police objection to councillors. “This is a very bold statement to make,” Sgt Jackie Booth said. “What is the applicant classing as a ‘dangerous level’?”

Police say the venue has no way of knowing if someone has been drinking already and that allowing further alcohol before and during throwing increases “the risk of an incident taking place involving an axe which is a weapon whether sharp or blunt”.

The applicant, Hilt Adventures, says axe-throwing venues are becoming more and more common “and some of our competitors have recently managed to obtain a crucial edge over us” by customers being able to have a drink while they throw an axe.

It adds: “The Hilt has a perfect record for safety, operating since September 2019 without a single accident.”

Booth said she held a video call with the applicant where she pointed out the only other axe-throwing venue in the area had the same alcohol conditions.

Councillor’s on York council’s licensing subcommittee will decide the matter next Monday.

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