Tuesday, July 29, 2008

This Is Newcastle, Man!

Okay, so not as glamorous as shouting "This is Africa", but with a similar disregard for laws as the former colonies.

Newcastle's drinking culture has come under the spotlight today, with the Spy Bar in Jesmond selling bottles of strong lager for just 10p each. And yes, 10p is still a lot of money in Newcastle, thanks for asking.

Anyway, note the slight change in outlook between the BBC's interview:
Spy's owner, Mr Handa, said: "The bottles were being sold at full price months ago, but they were no longer on sale. Two or three cases, or 36 bottles, were later found behind the bar and were sold off at the cheap price, but they were limited to one per person and only offered to regular customers. There was certainly no promotion, no adverts or anything like that."
and that from the Metro.
Spy Bar spokesman said: "I don't think we have been irresponsible at all. We were given two crates of beer by the brewery and just wanted to get rid of it. If people are drinking too much alcohol that is their choice."
It most certainly is. Although for some reason (surely not bandwagon jumping?) the local police and council now want to get involved.

Police Supt Dave Wormald said: "Northumbria Police is committed to tackling alcohol-related disorder. My neighbourhood officers will be speaking to the management at this establishment to take the appropriate course of action to discourage them from offering such promotions." And if I were the management I'd be telling you to get out of my premises.

Councillor Anita Lower, executive member for community safety and regulation (which is surely the most pointless job title you've heard in quite some time) at Newcastle City Council, said the bar's management would be "invited to meet the council's licensing committee". Again, if I was invited to the City council, I would be telling them to fuck off out of my business.

What the bar did - regardless of how they did it - is not illegal. The big supermarkets do this sort of thing all the time (have you seen any wine advertised as £7.99 a bottle, £10 for 3?) and keep getting away with it. Bars are having huge problems getting anyone into them; the smoking ban and the public perception of a credit crunch are not ideal conditions for welcoming people to a night out.

This twunt - another Doctor, who can presumably afford £30 bottles of Claret - has a different idea though. (From the Metro article):
Dr Christopher Record, who works at Newcastle's Freeman and Royal Victoria Infirmary hospitals, said: 'The offer is absolutely monstrous. It's totally irresponsible, one bottle of that beer contains 2.8 units of alcohol and they are charging the equivalent of 4p for a unit.' The doctor added he wanted to see new laws making it illegal to sell alcohol for less than 50p a unit.
Now that, I believe would be called price fixing. And that is most definitely illegal.

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