Not In Our Town
You might think that the government’s recent decision to be sensible-for once-and scrap plans for minimum pricing would bring joy and happiness to the world. There would be street parties and dancing in the aisles. That kind of thing. Well, not in Bury if the council have their way. Whilst potholes go unfilled, rubbish is only collected fortnightly and cars park openly on pavements, our civic leaders found time to pass a motion condemning the government u-turn. It’s good to see them concentrate on the local issues that matter, isn't it?
The Labour motion calls on the government to reconsider its decision and calls it a “chilling reminder of big business’s influence.” It states: “This council recognises the public health benefits and reduced pressure on health and social care minimum pricing could bring and asks the government to reconsider its u-turn on this policy.” Now Bury Council does have a somewhat puritanical history. Who can forget the ban on the Life of Brian film? Probably something to do with wanting to keep the workers in the mills and not out enjoying themselves, but this goes too far.
Cllr Gill Campbell led the charge and threw out clichés and nonsense statistics by the bucket-load. Minimum pricing could mitigate against the effects alcohol misuse and supermarket alcohol sales are having on the country including, but not only, unprotected sex among young people and hospital admissions. And did you know that 23% of deaths in the 18-25 year-old age group was due to alcohol?
But the best bit and the one that really got me was yet to come. Working herself up into a frenzy worthy of a Leni Riefenstahl production, she added: “It is disgraceful pubs are selling drinks at a loss-this is an uncontrolled supply of a dangerous, dangerous drug. Shockingly young people in the borough can afford to buy a bottle of vodka a week out of their own pocket money.”
Whoa. Whoa. One minute it’s supermarkets, and then it’s the Smokers Arms. They’re all in it together. Exactly which pubs are selling these drinks at a loss? I mean I know Spoons are cheap but I’m pretty certain that they’re not knocking out Carling for a loss. And what’s all this unregulated supply rubbish? The licensed trade is the epitome of regulated.
I’m afraid there’s more than a whiff of hypocrisy here as this is the very same council that has used licensing as a cash cow and turns a blind eye to over population in the off-trade. Not to mention turning the town centre into a free-for-all. More consistency and less rhetoric would have been a better approach.
Of course, the nature of these comments and the nature of politics meant that not everyone was in agreement. Sadly, they were more interested in trying to score party political points rather than the silliness of the argument itself. Liberal Democrat councillor Donal O’Hanlon questioned why the previous Labour government hadn’t brought in minimum pricing.
Meanwhile, Tory councillor Roy Walker showed he wasn’t beyond wheeling out clichés himself by blaming binge drinking on the Labour government’s licensing deregulation. With clowns like this in charge and no one to tell them that they are talking shite, it’s small wonder things are in the state they are.