Interesting news today with the report that Oldham (yes, them again) council are planning to “get tough” with supermarkets selling cheap grog. They’ve written to 17 stores warning of new trading conditions that they may apply if the store sells alcohol for less than 50p a unit. These primarily focus on having an in-store designated alcohol zone with a clear “gateway” to the zone and various conditions liable to the zone, such as having to provide a security officer for the zone and a ban on promotions outside of the zone.
Many of these conditions frankly sound like nonsense: There will be a limit on the size of promotional material advertising cheap drink-maximum 20cm x 10cm and a requirement to display one of five responsible drinking messages!
Of course this follows hot on the heels of their plans to impose similar conditions on town centre pubs and clubs. But hold on, you might say, didn’t most of those conditions fail at the first hurdle? Yes, as well these might if the likes of Tesco wish to flex their legal muscles. For, rather worryingly for a local authority, Oldham seem to have a shaky grasp of the law and like to put the cart before the horse, licensing wise.
It would be in the interests of drinkers everywhere if these proposals were to fall by the wayside. For as Peter Coulson, legal editor of the Morning Advertiser, warns, any attack on the supermarkets is merely part of a general attack on the whole licensed trade and could have worrying consequences for the on-trade.