Phil's Diary September 1, 2009
Scotland is a slightly different place today. A new licensing regime comes into force, largely modelled on the regime in England and Wales (you remember, the one that was going to cause the collapse of civilisation) but with a couple of significant differences. And they could cause chaos.
While promising them greater flexibility the law exacts a price on licensees by giving them greater responsibilities, enshrined in a set of ‘licensing objectives’. Failure to fufill these objectives could ultimately result in the loss of the licence and the business.
objectives are a cornerstone of English and Welsh law too. There are
four of them broadly based on keeping order and unobjectionable. The
Scots have added a fifth: “protecting
and improving public health”.
is a weighty responsibility for people who are chiefly there to sell
alcohol and give people a good time. I can see the point of making sure
pubs aren’t a festering health hazard, but there are environmental
health officers who do that. And certain methods of promoting alcohol
sales are ill-advised, but there are regulations coming in to limit
those as well.
bothers me is that second bit about “improving”. How on earth is a
publican supposed to improve public health? Pubs are places of
indulgence, whether it’s in drink, or food, or getting up on the
karaoke and humiliating yourself. If people want to be more healthy they
go to a health spa or a gym or somewhere boring.
pubs have healthier menu options, which is good, but is it going to be
the law? And what about booze? There are bits and pieces of scientific
evidence about the benefits of moderate drinking but there is also a
current of medical opinion that says there’s no safe consumption
level. Dr Peter Anderson, a scientist with big sway in the European
Union, said as much in his submission to the latest consultation. Is
this to be debated in licensing appeals?
there’s another difference in the Scottish law. While you have to be a
recognised authority (police, EHO etc) to object to a licence in England
and Wales, north of the border anyone can do it. Including your friendly
local temperance lodge.
this legal stuff has to be tested in practice, of course. Hopefully good
sense will prevail.
legalised. Sky stays up
around (illegal) drug policy are, I’ve noticed, conducted at a much
higher level of sophistication than the arguments around alcohol policy.
But even there, we’ve a long way to go.
week Mexico became the latest country to legalise the possession of all
drugs. Other parts of Latin America are set to follow.
Portugal is more than a year into a similar policy and so far the
sky hasn’t fallen in. A powerful lobby has emerged in the US against
the so-called war on drugs and even Arnold Schwarzenneger has called for
a debate on legalising drugs.
also last week the UK banned ‘legal highs’. Hmm.
Guide live now!
to sunny Brighton? If you think you like the kind of pubs I like, a
handy guide is now live on this very site. I’ll be adding pubs for the
rest of the world when I get round to it. Don’t forget to drink
responsibly. Whatever that means.
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