Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Minimum Pricing by By-Law

Dundee licencing chief, Rod Wallace, is to ask city council officials to investigate the possibility of introducing minimum alcohol pricing in the city's pubs and clubs through a by-law.

A report claimed that three Scottish local authorities are looking at brining in their own price controls and Mr Wallace said the idea was "interesting" and merited further investigation.  Stirling is one of them.

The Association of Greater Manchester Authorities and 10 primary care trusts in the area have been working on introducing a by-law for a minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol. They are expected to produce a report at the end of the month and they've received the backing of David Cameron.

It's understood Scotland's licensing act gave local authorities the power to make by-laws until the option was removed in the 2005 version of the legislation.  A Scottish Government amendment to the act could restore that power to the country's licencing boards and could prove much easier to implement than a national pricing policy.

Interesting days ahead with regard to minimum pricing of alcohol.  Firstly, I'm not sure if an amendment to the Licensing Act could be made without the consent of Parliament - I'm sure someone will know that answer - and secondly, will it move drinkers to a council area which didn't have a minimum pricing policy?  There's no need to travel many miles from Dundee before you leave that authority and either enter Angus or Perthshire. There is no mention of west coast or Highland council considering this move but it could be they will wait to see the outcome of Dundee and Stirling's efforts.



English Pensioner said...

Assuming the minimum price is not enforced by increasing taxation, it will lead to increasing profits for the pub or brewery.
But I suspect they will find a way round it - "Free bag of crisps with every pint", or "Save our meal vouchers, one free with every unit of alcohol".
Might even be good for trade!

JRB said...

I had occasion to visit a local pub the other evening.

I know I’m old and past it and possibly guilty of still living in the early 20th century, but I was horrified at the exorbitant prices being charged for a simple drink.
This was further compounded by the restaurant charging in excess of £30 for a bottle of wine that I know can be purchased from the supermarket for £5.

No wonder the youngsters of today buy their alcohol from the supermarket or corner shop and ‘load-up’ before going out on the town.

I for one will not be returning anytime in the near future to that or any other pub, preferring to enjoy my ‘wee glass’ or a meal in the comfort of my home in the company of friends.

It’s not just a minimum price for alcohol that should be under consideration but the excessive prices being charged by licensed premises.

RMcGeddon said...

The EU will nip this nonsense in the bud. Any extra tax on imported wines from France or Belgian beer will be against some EU law or other.

subrosa said...

There are lots of hurdles with this EP but it will be interesting to see, if the by-law is passed, how it can be enforced.

subrosa said...

John, it's quite scary isn't it the prices charged. I know pubs and hotels have to make a living but surely over-pricing is bad for business or do people not mind paying it except for us on fixed incomes.

subrosa said...

That thought crossed my mind too RM.

Demetrius said...

I recall once having trouble in Wigan in finding a taxi only to be told they were all on booze runs to Calais. Anyone for Carlisle?

subrosa said...

It's a difficult one Demetrius but surely we should start with enforcing the present laws. My concern is that all this will do is increase the profits of the drinks companies.

No mention of closing licenced premises earlier or closing their bars earlier. If every late night licenced premises in Dundee closed their access to alcohol a couple of hours earlier that would reduce intake surely. The music can go on.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

RM is right, this would be against EU law, which as we all know over-rides our own whether English or Scottish.

This is why everyone is proceeding so cautiously. No doubt there are behind-the-scenes negotiations going on with our masters in Brussels.

Now, I wonder which side of the debate Tesco's will be on?

subrosa said...

I can guess the answer to your question WY, but I'm sure everyone can.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out though because, if this is what they think will solve the alcohol problem then I'm all for it. Unfortunately I'm far from convinced there is one solution and I would have preferred others to be given a higher profile.

Eddie Douthwaite said...

The devolvement of power to Local Councils is all part of the Big Society plan, before you know it, Councils will be persuaded by their "Partnership colleagues, Alliances, and lobby groups" (not the ordinary citizen) to implement new laws.

If this happens how long before there could be local bans against smoking in the street etc.


RMcGeddon said...

Just as I thought. This minimum pricing policy for alcohol is outlawed under article 28 and article 14 of European Law...

" Requirements such as mandatory origin marking and maximum and minimum selling prices have also been outlawed in order to maintain and uphold the unifying idea set out under Article 14 of the ECT "

That took 5 minutes of googling. How long have the SNP ministers been spouting on about this tax ?
And these guys are on £130K plus advisors etc. I'd charge them £7 an hour for my 'expert' advice ;)

RMcGeddon said...

Mind you. Reading through that law again it looks a bit ambiguous so there will be a way around it. I won't charge anything this time as I'm not certain I'm completely sure of the truth.
Although Nigel Farage etc say minimum pricing is illegal and they've been studying the EU for a while.

Joe Public said...

Isn't that tantamount to Price-Fixing?

Thank goodness the EU exists to protect the rights of the common consumer from such illegal practices!

It would take just a single complaint to Brussels, and the instigators of such a cartel could find themselves imprisoned / or face a fine of £millions. Just what the local-authority taxpayers of Dundee would relish.

RantinRab said...

Sweep the streets, etc etc.

That's the council's job, nothing else.

Billy said...

You can see how they will never get rid of the drugs problems in this world just by reading the likes of these comments.

Everyone wants rid of these problems but as long as it is not their drugs that they are trying to get rid of. The adults are the worst as they cannot get by without using the two worst killers in the world tobacco and alcohol and being hypocritical towards the young with regard to the crap they take whilst they copy the adults into their habits.

Sad that people can't live their lives without their poisons - of course it is nothing to do with them that it is passed from generation to generation and is getting worst every time.

subrosa said...

There's an answer to that Eddie. Start a lobby group - the bigger the better.

Some in Scotland are now speaking about banning smoking in cars - because of the children of course.

I've never smoked in my car when anyone has been a passenger for years. It's a confined space and even with the window open it's not pleasant. I'd also like a ban of eating Kentucky Fried Chicken in cars. It leaves a horrible smell for days.

subrosa said...

£7 an hour. You're no expert at that price RM. £700 will get you respect no matter what you say.

There will be a way round it I'm sure. Will be interesting to see the developments.

As I said I'm not against laws to reduce excessive alcohol consumption but I feel the pricing issue is the easy solution to say 'we've done something'.

subrosa said...

I don't know Joe. You perhaps know far better than me.

subrosa said...

Aye Rab, that's what people here want. Clean, well lit streets, bins emptied and roads and pavements in good order.

I'm dreading the Christmas/New Year holidays. The pavements and town streets weren't cleared from 23 December to 5 January. So many were trapped in their homes and so many didn't clear the pavements in front of their properties because they didn't want sued. No legislation in the pipeline to support those who do make an effort to make things better and someone falls is there.

subrosa said...

Billy, sadly we'll never get rid of drug (including alcohol) problems as they've been part of society since mankind appeared. Not so long ago laudanum was still freely available in some countries without prescription - a centuries old drug. Same with heroin of course.

Don't youngsters use alcohol these days? I didn't realise they don't used modern chemical drugs.

I'm not knocking the young. I'm wondering whether increasing the price will have any effect of those who drink to excess.

It's been passed through generations for centuries. If you look just a bit back at the Victorian era you'll find drugs were commonplace in all classes but only the rich could afford the 'quality' ones.

Something's going wrong with the drug education programmes we have or we have far too many youngsters who are being let down in many ways. Throwing money at the problem isn't always the answer.

Allan said...

While reserching Minimum Pricing for a letter I was writing for the Paisley Daily Express, i came accross a couple of little nuggets concerning the Scottish Licenceed Trade Association.

When talking about supermarkets, they used the phrases "under pricing of alcohol" and "below cost selling by supermarkets". Bearing in mind that - from the same submission to the Scottish government - 61% of all alcohol is brought from Offsales, and from that 73% is bought through supermarkets. Is it any wonder the Licensed Trade Association are so keen on Minimum Pricing.

I don't think minimum pricing will work, there is nothing else for young adults to do in this country...

subrosa said...

Interesting Allan. Rather like the 'service users' jargon used to describe patients in the NHS.

Nothing for the young to do? Goodness me. Even in an out of the way place like this there's plenty for them to do, albeit outdoors really but the cities aren't far away.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Billy, I am not hypocritical about it at all, I do like my poisons (beer now and again, wine at weekends, a whisky mac on arrival in a new anchorage, and a very occasional dram), and anyone else is welcome to theirs, as far as I am concerned, whether it's alcohol, tobacco, dope, smack, coke, heroin, or worse things, more fool them, as long as they take the consequences.

I only ask that they don't beat me up and take my stuff so as to finance their habits.

And Rab, yup, I'm with you - sweep the streets Mr. Council, and take away the rubbish, and otherwise stay the hell out of my life, 'cos you only make things worse.

Allan said...

What I mean is that there are very little amenities. Take where I stay. At nights the buses are not very regular, there are no coffee shops, or any where young adults can gather out of the rain. Paisley town centre is a good 25 minutes walk, whereas the nearest cinema is about 40 minutes away. There is a pub and a mens club but that's about it.

Sure there are playstations & DVD's and Wii's & etc... etc... all the kind of activities which are of the out of sight variety, and no use if young people are not alowedhome alone if their parents are out.

subrosa said...

Ah I see what you mean now Allan. Labour's regeneration programme where all amenities were promised but never appeared. It's happened all over Scotland.

It also happens in private housing. I lived in a village some years ago and it was promised there would be a pub, bigger shop and other amenities. It's only a few years ago that transpired and that was after 20 years. The young had to get a lift into the city or hang around the streets. Fortunately they weren't a tearaway lot, in fact they were pleasant youngsters. They did find entertainment in the countryside around though - most of them.

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