Licensee successfully challenges smoking sign fine

By James Wallin contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pascal Watkins challenged a council threat to fine him £200 using outdated legislation. Picture by Jude Kershaw
Pascal Watkins challenged a council threat to fine him £200 using outdated legislation. Picture by Jude Kershaw

Related tags: North yorkshire

A licensee has warned fellow publicans to make sure they know their rights after a council wrongly threatened him with a £200 fine for not displaying the correct ‘no smoking’ sign.

Pascal Watkins, of the Angel Inn at Hetton near Skipton in North Yorkshire, criticised his local authority for being two years out of date with the legislation on smoking signs.

He has since received an apology from Craven District Council after pointing out that the Smoke-free Signs Regulations 2012 scrapped the need for signs to be a particular size and prominence, simply stating that “at least one legible no-smoking sign must be displayed” in premises.

Watkins said that staff at his pub were bemused to receive a visit from the local council’s dog warden, who told them they would have to pay a spot fine of £200 if they failed to display the correct signage.

Watkins said: “They have absolutely no idea of the pressures pubs are facing.

Different world

“They are living in a different world if they really think that this is the sort of thing they need to pester businesses about. It doesn’t really surprise me they’re so out of touch, because that’s what civil servants are like.

“I thought this sounded wrong so spent a few minutes on Google and found out all I needed to know. But how many people are there who wouldn’t feel confident to challenge a council officer and would just pay up?”

A spokeswoman for the council said: “We had not been made aware that the regulations surrounding the display of no-smoking signage had changed.  This is an unfortunate oversight which has since been rectified and an apology made to the gentleman who bought it to our attention. We have since updated our literature.”

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Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse

Posted by John Ellis,

If a miscrient licensee were to fall foul of the law through ignorance, he or she would soon correctly be told the old legal maxim "Ignorance of the Law is no excuse". As a former local Government Officer and current Town Councillor, I am aware that local councils have legal departments full of expertise. Also, the relevant officers (probably E.H.O.'s) should be aware of their special fields. The question here is why a Dog Warden is enforcing smoking legislation?

It sounds as though Craven Council needs to sort itself out and work out who is responsible for what!

John Ellis
Crown Inn, Oakengates and
Elephant & Castle, Dawley

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Joined-up Government - ridding us of red tape

Posted by david,

A superb example of how national and local government work in perfect harmony. Both Conservative led - so no party political differences to blame this time.

Craven District Council's excuse is "We had not been made aware that the regulations had changed". Bless 'em. How many times are publicans told that ignorance of changed regulations will be no excuse?!

"Not me Guv" says Craven Council. But the link below shows the changes were announced by the Department of Health and the Dept's bulletin specifically stated "Supplementary guidance for businesses and local authority regulatory officers about the new rules HAS been issued".

The biggest laugh of all, of course, is the concluding sentence of the bulletin announcing the change: "This deregulation has been made as part of the Government’s Red Tape Challenge, which aims to reduce regulatory obstacles for business".

It's all going nicely then guys.

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Posted by Properjob,

Dog Warden? He must not have enough work to do

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