Why are councils so determined to demonstrate their lack of knowledge and grasp of reality? In a worrying move, Bury Council have backed proposals to amend the Licensing Act 2003. At the moment, health issues are not part of the four objectives of the Act. However, there are plans afoot to change that.
The Sustainable Communities Act (SCA), a rather good piece of legislation, allows local authorities to propose amendments etc after community consultation. A good idea in theory. But here, we have a classic case of backdoor lawmaking, or doing the dirty as I like to call it. The idea is to add “protecting and improving public health” to the four existing objectives.
Now firstly, there’s the question of whether, if it really is that important, why wasn’t it included in the original legislation. Secondly, is the issue of consultation. Or rather lack of it. Who exactly have they consulted? Not me, obviously. If they had, I would have told them, in the immortal words of Edmund Trebus, to stick it up their chuffer.
But perhaps I’m being too hard on our local political representatives. Obviously they must have good reasons for supporting such a draconian measure. Only it seems not. They seem to have fallen for the propaganda continually spewed out by the anti-alcohol brigade. Apparently 25% of UK adults drink above the low risk level and locally some 20% are “hazardous drinkers.” Yes, they’re even using the meaningless jargon of the anti-booze Nazis.
Deputy council leader and fun-police spokesperson Yvonne Creswell actually had the nerve to say: "It has been proved that cheap alcohol has a key role in excessive drinking and damage to health and, at this time, local authorities have no legal power to consider the protection of improvement of public health.” Of course not, luv. That’s because it’s not your job. Your job is to ensure my bins get emptied. Repeat after me, bins, not booze.
Of course this is the same council who have used alcohol licensing as an excuse to print money. If they were really interested in public health, they’d take more of an interest in the type and number of licensed premises. There’s been quite a lot of local publicity about a glassing in the town centre that could leave the victim blind in one eye. He was glassed in Coolers, a filthy dive on Silver Street and atypical of the late night rat-holes that have been granted licenses in recent years. Evert time there’s a serious disturbance, it’s in one of these places and yet we have councillors waxing lyrical about alcohol and health. Physician, heal thyself.