ALE November 1998 No. 292

Roundup

In this issue we cover the flurry of brewery closures and local pub changes, in particular the big Cambridge St Andrew's Street changes. There's also the list of winners in this year's Champion Beer of Britain 1998 competition and the results of the East Anglian beer star rating survey and of several consumer surveys.

Please make a note in your diary for the Cambridge Winter Ale Festival 1999. If you can spare some time to help out, you'll be most welcome and as usual staff get cheap beer and food.


The Government is moving forward on some fronts...

Duty

There's no sign of any real action to end the ludicrous cross-border booze trade by obeying the Treaty of Rome and bringing our duty levels down to the EU average, thus cutting imports and boosting UK sales (with a net gain in tax revenue, according to Treasury forecasts). Kent brewer Shepherd Neame is still challenging the Government in the courts over this. The Society of Independent Brewers is campaigning for a continental-style sliding scale of duty to help small brewers compete and thus maintain consumer choice. [Campaign Web site; article in ALE 289.]

No-smoking zones

They seem minded to accept a voluntary scheme within the leisure industry to cut smoke, rather than impose no-smoking areas. There's supposed to be a White Paper by the end of the year.

Pub hours

They seem to be ready to try relaxing pub hours, at least in town centres, perhaps allowing opening to midnight in appropriate circumstances.

Full pints

As for insisting on full pints, it's been all talk so far. They've let a lone MP, Eric "Froth" Forth, block legislation to end the scandal of short measure. CAMRA's 1997 survey of Trading Standards departments showed that 8 out of 10 pubs serve short measure. In spite of what some in the industry say, there would be no extra costs for pubs since the law, if introduced, would allow several years for them to bring in lined ("over-size") glasses as part of their normal replacement cycles. There would also be far less wastage into drip trays due to topping up beers with lively heads. [See Ruining the taste.]

Allied Domecq Leisure appealed in the High Court against a Bradford conviction for short measure. The judges agreed with the magistrates' decision that a pint means a pint of liquid and that the onus is on the supplier to provide it, not on the customer to ask for a top-up - an interesting precedent. CAMRA is dismayed that JD Wetherspoon have gone back on their initiative to have lined glasses: having introduced them, they're taking them away, apparently as some customers were confused by them.

Children

Over 4000 pubs now have Children's Licences since they started in January 1995 but the application rate has dropped off. There's no sign of any move to make conditions more equitable and consistent across the country. Meanwhile many pubs simply welcome children unofficially and get away with it since the law isn't enforced.


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