Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Closing down the debate

Apparently fakecharity Alcohol Concern Wales want to have a “national debate” about the future of alcohol sales in petrol stations. This stems, they say, from continued concern about the high level of drink-related road accidents. But is there actually evidence that any such accidents have been caused by drivers who have bought alcohol from petrol forecourts and consumed it immediately afterwards? Also, in many areas of rural Wales, petrol stations may offer the only shop for miles around, so banning them from selling alcohol would be a significant detriment to local communities.

Of course, when such organisations call for a “debate” that is the last thing they want – they are seeking to impose their views on others. We saw exactly the same a year or so ago when health organisations staged the so-called “Big Drink Debate” which was really just an exercise in making moderate drinkers feel guilty. And isn’t the real motivation behind turning the spotlight on petrol stations just yet another niggly, salami-slicing, superficially reasonable-sounding bid to restrict the availability of alcoholic drinks?


  1. As I understand it pure petrol stations aren't allowed to sell alcohol, only shops which might happen to have a petrol station attached to them. I can't see alcohol concern getting the sale of booze in shops banned.

  2. They could if they imposed a rule prohibiting alcohol sales within a certain distance from petrol stations. Rather like the proposed banning of fast food near schools.

    Never under-estimate the loopiness of ideas the righteous are capable of dreaming up in the pursuit of puritannical zero risk.

  3. I'm not sure that there's any specific prohibition against petrol stations selling alcohol, except those at motorway services - I have certainly come across quite a few that do, especially but not exclusively in rural areas - where the shop section is fairly small. It's more common than it used to be. Obviously any application for an off-licence has to be approved by the local licensing authority.

  4. Way things are going in the Druid Gulag,
    petrol stations will be the only places you will be able to get some booze

    What few pubs are left are not worth letting a Corgi piss in.

    Last Welsh schmuck inn I went in ,they were having a face painting session for under 3s
    to bolster income.

    Eddy Longlegs

  5. Sure, let's have the debate, and for once let's see some people stand up for the silent majority.

    Perhaps what we need is a Campaign for Free Adult Decisions or some such?

    I don't smoke, did I care about going into a smoky pub for a drink? No, I don't see that I have a right to force my non-smokiness on other people, and before people start on the "but they force their smoke on you" bull, they didn't, I made a choice to go into that particular pub and I like to think that I make my bed so I lie in it.

    Then when they start on about health and safety for employees, do we not have a free labour market where you can take your skills where you see fit? I don't want to work in an environment full of coal dust, so I am not a miner, if you didn't want to work in a smoky environment, why did you work in a pub?

    Smoking or non-smoking should have been left to the discretion of landlords. There are pubs in Prague which are completely non-smoking and are all the better fiscally for it. There is space in the market for both smoking and non-smoking pubs.

  6. I'm a personal license holder and during the training we were told who get a premises license. Motorway service stations can't. The law for petrol stations is whether their primary function is selling petrol or goods. So, a busy petrol station that only sells coke, pasties and maps, can't get a premises license. A tesco express which sells a large range of goods (more like a large corner shop) and petrol, can. No debate is needed as the law on this is adequate.

  7. Alcohol Concern is using the "gain a foothold" strategy. Find anywhere - it doesn't matter what - where the public can be persuaded alcohol shouldn't be sold. It's got nothing to do with rod safety. Then, after a couple of years, say "because of the success of the x ban, we should extend it to a y ban"; or, "the x ban doesn't go far enough, we should extend it to a y ban. This is how banning works. Remember, in 2000, ASH UK said they had no wish to ban smoking in pubs.

  8. Precisely – as I said in the post, it's "salami-slicing" – take one, small, apparently reasonable step at a time.

  9. So, how is this going to work with the Tesco, (and other), Superstores which all seem to have petrol stations attatched to them?

  10. We don't live in deepest rural Wales, but even so the petrol station's shop on the outskirts of our town is the only place for about 18 miles that is open 24 hours a day. It's the only place we can buy something if we 'suddenly run out', have 'forgotten to buy' or if we have unexpected guests after 8:00pm - which is when the town's main supermarket closes. There are no off licenses in the town, the last one closed a few years ago.

    The roads near the petrol station are not littered with either empty drink cans, smashed vodka bottles or drunkards and it certainly doesn't seem to be an accident black spot - even though there are customers right through the night. The place provides a useful service (as well as providing a few jobs) and should be market-led, rather than face petty restrictions.

    If anybody in our town wants to buy a bottle of wine/whisky etc after 8:00pm it means getting in the car, but for a fairly short journey. Would these people who want to ban off-sales from petrol stations prefer everybody drives further? Because that would be the alternative.

    Don't you wish they'd just shut up for five minutes, give over with their incessant nagging and petty wannabe rules, and let us get on with our lives in peace.


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