Smoking licensees get off scot-free

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Licensees in England who are openly defying the smoking ban are being allowed to get off scot-free.There are no reports of licensees being fined,...

Licensees in England who are openly defying the smoking ban are being allowed to get off scot-free.

There are no reports of licensees being fined, although several individual smokers have been hit with £80 fixed-penalty notices and councils insist they will penalise publicans who continue to flout the ban.

Some licensees have vowed to continue to allow smoking despite the fact they face a £2,500 fine and could lose their licence.

Nick Hogan, who is allowing smoking at Bolton's Swan and Barristers, said: "There are pubs throughout the country doing it, but I haven¹t heard of anyone being taken to court yet. Why not?"

Tony Blows of the Dog Inn, Ewyas Harold, Herefordshire, who has received widespread publicity after declaring he would fight on, said: "I think the council is running scared to be honest. I think they are waiting for that first court case."

Hamish Howitt, licensee of Blackpool's Happy Scots, said he had been to court to serve a writ against Blackpool Council, the Home Office and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. He added: "The councils are a bunch of headless chickens. The council has clearly stated they are not going to let me be a martyr and go to prison."

However, councils claim they will take action.

A spokeswoman for Bolton Council said its representatives had visited Hogan four times in five days. "His warning has been issued and we are now at the stage of gathering evidence to report him to the courts for failing to prevent smoking in a smoke-free place over which he has control," she added.

Herefordshire Council environmental health manager Paul Nicholas said of the Dog Inn: "We have visited the pub twice, spoken to the landlord and his wife and have written to them as well."

Blackpool Council said it was approaching enforcement in a 'non-confrontational' way, but warned that licensees who failed to comply could lose their licences.

Howitt has been called for an interview with the council.

A spokesperson for local authority co-ordinating body LACORS said: "Councils have explicitly said they are not out to fine people in the early stages.

They are making sure people understand the ban and landlords are fully complying with the legislation."

Stoke-on-Trent City Council denies admin slip-up has left it powerless to stop smoker

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has denied claims that it is powerless to act against licensees and smokers flouting the smoke-free laws after an administrative error.

While it admitted last week it was unable to issue fixed-penalty notices until today (July 16), it said it was prepared to enforce the law with a summons. Head of regulatory services Peter Devaney said: ³We have the power to prosecute individuals and businesses and have been able to do this since July 1, 2007 ­ the day the national ban came in.

³This is not a real problem for us as we can issue a summons where we need to.²

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