IT was the morning after the night before and you would scarcely believe the first weekend of new drinking laws had just gone by.

Pubs and bars across High Wycombe threw open their doors into the early hours as the new licensing laws kicked into effect at midnight on Wednesday, November, 23.

But the message was business as usual over the weekend, with fears of alcohol-fuelled violence largely unfounded in the town centre.

Near The Beaconsfield Arms pub in Hughenden Road, Jenny Baldwin, 20, failed to see what all of the fuss was about.

The student, who lives just doors down from the pub with a new 1am licence, said she hardly noticed a difference on Sunday morning.

"I left my boyfriend's around 12.45pm and there was no-one around here, no noise, nothing," she said.

"I don't think it will really affect this area. It is a busy pub but it is not heaving and most people who go there drive anyway."

Steve Robbins, 23, of Beech Road, lives near two pubs and said: "Its been quiet really. The Swan is a quiet pub so there are no problems."

It was clear landlords and staff were ready to take longer opening hours just as seriously as punters.

The laws, which came into effect on Thursday, not only give drinkers more freedom, they give police the freedom to crack down if things get out of hand.

Neil O'Hagan, landlord of The Hogshead pub in Oxford Road, said: "We probably won't open much later because I don't have the security here really.

"If you open late you need security. It is not necessarily because of trouble it is just that you should have it."

As the clock struck midnight on Wednesday, few pubs in the town centre stayed open to welcome the historic moment.

A Midweek survey found that apart from a handful of pubs in the town centre, including the Falcon and the Hobgoblin, most were closing before 12am on Saturdays despite having the option to open later.

The general trend is that some pubs will only use their licence to its limit if they have entertainment on, such as live music. Others simply like the flexibility of opening late if a night is going particularly well.

John Tierney, of The Bell in Frogmoor, said: "We have a 2am licence but we don't need to use it.

"It just makes life easier for people in the pub because I don't have to chuck them out straight away."

It might be a surprise, but many pubs had late licences under the old system anyway and are simply carrying on as before. The only difference is the new laws have brought in a hype of "24 hour licensing", when really it is anything but.

Dougald Tidswell, 33, of West End Road, who was in The Hobgoblin on Saturday night, told Midweek: "People talk about 24-hour drinking but it is a complete misnomer.

"No one is actually opening 24 hours. It is a very sensible way of relaxing the licensing laws."

Pubs opening late on Saturday in High Wycombe generally had plenty of security and nearby police officers patrolled the streets in pairs after Thames Valley Police launched Operation Hang-over to coincide with the change in drinking laws.

New drinking times allow people the flexibility to go out later in the evening, and ensure there is less of a rush to finish their drinks at closing time.