Booze price is the right step

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PUBS in Kirkcaldy don’t believe the introduction of a minimum price for alcohol will make much difference to people’s drinking habits.

A minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol is set to come into effect in April next year after legislation was passed at the Scottish Parliament last month.

That will push up prices of some drinks on sale in supermarkets and off-licences – but the Press spoke to a number of staff in pubs around the town centre who don’t expect the narrowing of the gap in prices to have any impact on their trade.

Sandy Haxton, of Betty Nicol’s, said it was a step in the right direction, but believes off-licence alcohol is too readily available with too little control on the quantities being purchased.

He said: “Pubs are a controlled environment where if you have too much the bar staff will stop serving you, but in a domestic situation there is no control, and I believe that’s much of the problem in our society today.”

His view was shared several bar staff, who don’t expect to see any major change in the trend of people drinking at home.

One barman pointed out a pint in a pub costs around £3.20-£3.50, and even when minimum pricing comes into effect, it will still be possible to buy a four-pack of beer for around the same price.

George Mackay, of the Path Tavern, said: “People who go for the cheap drink in supermarkets don’t go to pubs, and they’ll still buy their drink in supermarkets. It’s not going to change anything for us.”

And Lee McDonald, of the Wheatsheaf Inn, said: “It’s not a level playing field.

‘‘If we could get the same deals as supermarkets it would be brilliant for us and brilliant for customers, who could enjoy the atmosphere of the pub”.

Minimum pricing has been welcomed by Fife Police.

Tom Ewing, Assistant Chief Constable said: “We consider that directly linking the strength of a product to its retail cost by establishing a minimum price for a unit of alcohol will positively assist in addressing the problems associated with reducing excess alcohol consumption and the subsequent alcohol-related harm and anti-social behaviour.”