New limit driving pubs to the edge

By Gillian McKenzie

IT had been in place for a little over a week but it was already making its mark on the trade.
Operators I spoke to the week before Christmas were feeling the effects of the lower drink drive limit, which came into force on December 5. After-work trade had been hit, as had Sunday business and lunch trade. And it wasn’t just rural pubs – similar stories emerged from outlets in cities and suburbs; many golf clubs have also seen bar takings plummet.
As SLTA chief Paul Waterson told SLTN (January 8), the lower limit could hit the trade harder than the smoking ban.
He could be right.
There’s no question that the smoking ban had a huge impact. But many operators were able to adapt their premises to accommodate smokers and lessen the hit.
With the lower drink drive limit, however, it seems many people have drastically altered when or even if they go to the pub.
Let’s be clear, no one is condoning drink driving. But it seems fears over residual alcohol in the system the next day – which carries the same penalty as being well over the limit – have stopped many people drinking completely.
It’s having a devastating impact on Scotland’s licensed trade – a trade which employs thousands of people, is the bedrock of the country’s tourism industry and a major contributor to the economy.
Trade groups have pledged to continue lobbying the Scottish Government to highlight the impact this is having on businesses. It is imperative the government takes action before any more damage is done.