Friday, 29 October 2010

Freezing your drink

A new high water mark has been reached in the anti-drink tide flowing through Scotland, with the news that West Dunbartonshire Council has decided to impose a complete ban on any new drinks licences, in both the on and off-trade, in 15 out of 18 areas within the authority. In the remaining three areas applicants for licences will have to prove that customers would not travel from an “overprovision” area to purchase alcohol.

Inevitably this will lead to stagnation in the market and act to the detriment of responsible consumers of alcohol by blocking any new entrants, as Patrick Brown of the Scottish Beer and Pub Association rightly points out. “The Board appears to be more interested in political grandstanding than it is in public health,” he said.

The Chair of the Licensing Board, councillor Jim Brown, said: “We have far too many pubs, bars and off-sales shops given the size of the area.” Just what right does this self-important twerp have to make judgments as what constitutes “too many” pubs or off-licences? Surely the number is determined by the level of business – if all are trading profitably, then there cannot be too many.

And what evidence is there that freezing licences is likely to reduce either consumption in general or so-called “problem drinking”?

The policy is also likely to hold back economic development in the area, as who would want to open a new supermarket, hotel or sports club if they were unable to get an alcohol licence for it?

The report doesn’t say whether existing licences will be transferable – if they are, the move will have the unintended consequence of handing a potential goldmine to anyone who has one, as they will be able to sell it to the highest bidder.


  1. If you are applying for planning permission, it cant be denied because of the number of similar businesses in the area. I went through this when applying for planning permission for a pub in Accrington.
    It should be the same for alcohol licences. The number of venues will be dictated by market forces.
    You'd think.

  2. I'm glad I don't live in West Dumbartonshire!

    Seriously though, surely this is a restraint on trade carried out by legitimate, and perfectly legal businesses. I would have thought it runs contrary to all anti-competition laws, and is certainly against all principles of free trade.

    I would also say that the Licensing Board are acting well outside the limits of their juristiction, and hope the good people of West Dunbartonshire make their views known in no uncertain terms!

  3. How much is this worth to the existing licence holders? And secondly what connections might there be between any existing licence holders and members of the committee?

  4. "Just what right does this self-important twerp have to make judgments as what constitutes “too many” pubs or off-licences?"

    The right given to him by those who have decided that they know better what can and can't be enjoyed by people on private premises.

    You're one of the few beer bloggers who spotted this early, PC, for others the penny still hasn't dropped. ;)

    I've got so many "I told you so"s piled up that I may have to knock two rooms into one ... by removing the ceiling. ;)

  5. @ Paul Bailey - it is my understanding that the new Scottish licensing legislation does indeed give the Council the power to do this.

  6. Another wee snippet from
    Dunbarton Gulag
    The Council have cancelled the
    annual bonfire procession as their
    health and safety rules demand 1
    steward per 10 marchers.
    They cant spare so many officials,
    probably on the late shift snooping
    for old Jocks smoking in bar doorways.
    The time must be ripe for some
    real ass kicking,these parish pump
    jumped up tupeeny fuhrers are

    beginning to spoil my oats.

    Eddy Longshanks


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