First rebel smoke ban host prosecuted

By Tony Halstead THals22851@aol.com

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Smoking ban, Smoking, Hamish howitt

Blackpool bar owner Hamish Howitt has become the first licensee to be prosecuted for allowing customers to flout the smoking ban. Howitt, chairman of...

Blackpool bar owner Hamish Howitt has become the first licensee to be prosecuted for allowing customers to flout the smoking ban.

Howitt, chairman of the local pubwatch group who runs the town's Happy Scot pub, has been served with seven separate summonses by council officers, which could land him with fines of more than £17,000.

News of the prosecution

follows a decision by Blackpool police to withdraw support for the pubwatch because Howitt was "flagrantly defying the law".

Howitt has refused to quit, but now faces a vote of no confidence and a postal vote is to take place. He is said to have stormed out of a pubwatch committee meeting after members criticised his stand against the ban.

A letter sent by Chief Superintendent Russ Weaver to the pubwatch says Howitt's activities have placed the police in considerable difficulties.

He said Howitt had deliberately set out to break the law through his well-publicised opposition to the ban, which posed "great doubt over the future of the (pubwatch) scheme".

Blackpool Council has also written to the pubwatch voicing its concern about Howitt's continued role as chairman.

One pubwatch member said it would be difficult to see how the group could function without police and council support. "We have had great support from the police and the council and it would be a pity to see all this come to an end," he said.

Howitt said he is prepared to go to jail rather than pay any fine.

"I am not pro-smoking, just pro-freedom. I am not prepared to shove my customers outside into the wind and rain to allow them their right to smoke," he said.

Related topics: Legislation

Property of the week

The Hazeldene Hotel

- Tenancy

The Hazeldene Hotel is opposite the Famous Blacksmiths Shop in Gretna Green. With 11 letting rooms, it is in a prime location to offer fantastic...

Follow us

Pub Trade Guides

View more