Scotland pubs want happy hours banned

Related tags Licensing boards Drinking culture Scotland

Licensees in Scotland are still pushing for a ban on cut-price booze and happy hours despite a government green-light on the practice.They are...

Licensees in Scotland are still pushing for a ban on cut-price booze and happy hours despite a government green-light on the practice.

They are adamant that price discounting contributes to rising levels of binge drinking among the young and want happy hours and special promotions outlawed.

But the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has already investigated the issue and ruled in August 2001 that it would be deemed "anti-competitive" if bans were imposed.

If the OFT refuses to budge on the issue, publicans have now vowed to take their fight to Europe - a move that could lead to licensing boards in England and Wales following suit.

Perth's licensing board has already taken a stance and told pubs in the town that they can only apply for extended hours if they stop running happy hours and cut price drinks promotions.

And at a conference organised by Alcohol Concern Scotland last week, licensees from all over Scotland told how they were seriously concerned about the rising problem of excessive drinking. Their fears were backed up by those of police and health workers

Ian Conway, Perth licensee and chairman of the Perth Safer Trading Forum recommended licensing boards across the country threatened to cut licensing hours if publicans did not comply with sensible pricing policies.

"In July, Perth Licensing Board announced a fixed minimum price for pints, bottles of beer and spirits to run for 10 weeks until the October board. As yet we have had no challenges against this. And many licensees have been happy to comply," he said.

Maureen McKerrow president of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said: "Scotland has a drinking culture which needs to be addressed.

The over provision of licences, where we have 6,000 more than in 1976, puts a downward pressure on prices - a classic signal that the market is over provided. Prices get eroded which leads to alcohol misuse."

Alcohol misuse costs Scotland £100-million with costs rising year on year.

Meanwhile, a new book and website stating all the best places to go in London for happy hours has just been published.

"It's happy hour time" lists over 170 pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants that offer Happy Hour drinking and is available in book stores.

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