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Phil Mellows is a freelance journalist living in Brighton  


         Phil's Diary October 7, 2009



Tories out on licensing

The licensed trade has always tended to look on the Conservatives as its natural party. Today’s conference announcement will surely jeopardise that relationship.

Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said he wants to “tear up the lax licensing regime” charge pubs extra to stay open later, give more power to local residents and increase taxes on higher strength lagers and ciders. All because our town centres have supposedly turned into “battle zones”.

Have the Tories ever looked up from their pink gins at the RAC Club and gone to see what’s actually happening, rather than just reading the Daily Mail? Do they appreciate how flexible licensing has allowed better management of circuit drinking in places like Brighton and Derby?

It would be nice to see Labour challenge the Tories on this, but I fear we’re in for yet another round of inflammatory policy leap-frogging.

Death and pensions

The Tories seem to be doing their best to lose an election they must surely win. Who’s going to vote to increase retirement age to 66? And again, pubs are likely to lose out.

On my tour of some of the country’s most successful pubs over the last couple of weeks the ‘grey market’ has, time and again, been a crucial source of business. One year less of leisure isn’t going to help the trade.

Yet I’m sure I heard a Conservative spokesman this morning say they will be moving retirement age forwards. Surely it’s back. Unless, of course, you’re looking at it from the point of view of death.

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