By James Davies
A number of pubs across Edinburgh have been investigated by Lothian and Borders Police for encouraging ‘irresponsible’ drinking through cheap promotions and discount cards.
The City’s Licensing Standards Officers are currently investigating around 65 premises in connection with breaching the Licensing Scotland Act (2005) by offering price discounts and alcohol promotions to specific social groups – in particular – students.
Pubs and restaurants have been warned by Police that these types of promotions are now unlawful after recent changes to the Licensing Scotland Act (2005) and discount cards and loyalty cards are now not allowed. The Act states that “no promotion can be given that encourages irresponsible drinking”.
Patrick Browne, Chief Executive of the Scottish Beer and Pub association said: “Police Officers don’t yet have any formal approval from the Licensing Board and we at The Scottish Pub and Beer association believe that Licensing Officers have made a big mistake.
“The Mitchells and Butler chain appealed one of the warnings their Dundee branch received two weeks ago, and are waiting on a Sheriffs decision. This will be Case Law and it would be premature if the Edinburgh LSO’s did anything before the Dundee decision”.
As the promotion cards and discount loyalty cards are mainly aimed at students, I spoke to a fourth year University student to see what his views on the situation are. He said: “Drink promotions are great for students, who have to do everything on a budget.
“Things like loyalty cards are great because they keep us students able to socialise and go out more. I imagine the pubs involved will feel a pinch in their profits if these types of promotions were made illegal. It’s ridiculous to ban these types of promotions for the majority, when it’s the minority that are actually abusing it.”
Decisions will be made about those pubs involved in the Edinburgh after the Mitchells and Butler case in Dundee has been settled, and depending on what the Sheriffs verdict is, pubs across the Capital may have to change their ways.