Musings From The Padded Cell

The Case For Cheap Beer?

“Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long, does not sin; whoever does not sin, enters Heaven! Thus, let us drink beer!”
Martin Luther

Sat in the marvellous Royal Oak in Eccleshill recently, I was enjoying a pint of their excellent, if over-priced ale whilst reading the informative beer drinker’s guide Tyke Taverner.

This edition was entitled the “Thinking Issue” and the lead story was the continuing fight for survival of the UK’s pub sector. Battered for years by greedy operators and weak governments alike, pubs survive but in ever declining numbers.

Just over five years ago I wrote The Pub and the £3 Pint which achieved the dizzying recognition of a slot in The Yorkshire Post.

Little has changed in the intervening years although recent legislation, won to protect publicans, is now in place albeit with limited impact to date.

The article breaks down the taxation of a “typical pint priced at £4” which, fortunately is not yet typical of The Scruffy.

Home Sweet Home

Harder to swallow than the beer is the following analysis: business rates (15p), VAT (67p), excise duty (49p and other taxes (15p).

Amounting to a staggering 36.5% in taxes alone on the price of a pint, this is before rents and the notorious tied practices operated by the pub owning companies.

Small wonder that pubs are struggling especially when supermarkets can sell alcohol at a fraction of the price. Of course the supermarkets cannot sell the special atmosphere of a pub but that is little consolation.

Recent upward revisions in business rates threaten the pub business almost more that the previous antics of the debt-laden operators.

Thinking about the continued attacks on a sector that employs thousands and contributes billions to the economy, whilst chatting with an avid reader of this column – there are some – somehow I began to make a case in my head for legalising drugs.

Follow me if you will.

My fellow old git contended that it was far cheaper to get high/stoned/rat-arsed via drugs these days for cash-strapped youngsters than alcohol. Of course it would be because this is a tax free purchase.

Incredible too, whilst we live in a city with generally piss-poor educational attainment, a section of young people appear highly successful if you measure success by the car they drive.

How is this miracle so I wondered given the paucity of highly-paid jobs in the city?

And then it dawned on me that maybe young people are resourceful and take on second-jobs just like our parents did? What better than a bit of buying and selling? Good on them?

So one part of a local economy struggles largely due to being taxed to death whilst another flourishes in a tax-free haven.

Consider this too? The case against alcohol and tobacco made by punitive taxation often relies on using the cost to society and the NHS in particular to justify such taxes. In part then, the sectors pay their whack?

Unfortunately, the other tax-free activities inflict significant carnage upon society too and yet we get no contribution to the coffers. And as demand for the products here appears undimmed by legislation and price is untouched by HMRC, where do you see this going?

The only people likely to feel any pinch from taxation here would be car retailers.

Joking aside, drugs are an evil that decades of enforcement has failed to have much impact at all.

Is it asinine to suggest perhaps there is another way worthy of debate? Alcohol drunk in moderation in a controlled environment in good company offers many social benefits.

On that note…time for a pint!

How Much?

An intriguing tale here concerning All Alone Road, home of the All Alone Stadium where the Villas play. What was a dirt track road when I were a lad has been gradually developed over the years with various housing.

Back in 2010 the adjacent football club – Eccleshill United FC – sought to sell part of it’s site in the face of significant debts for yet more housing.

In part due to local objections, the plans eventually came to nothing but, in time, the redundant adjacent site of boiler makers Israel Newton And Sons Ltd was eventually cleared opening up an attractive, if land-locked, site.

Sadly, whilst All Alone Road now has large properties at both ends, the middle bit has been left in limbo and appears to have become a haven for druggies and fly-tippers. Sandwiched between the football ground and a cleared site it looks somewhat abandoned.

So the proposed solution appears to offer some comfort to residents but the money involved, sprayed like confetti as ever by our photogenic local politicians, takes some believing.

“The total cost is estimated at £9,000. The barriers would cost £750 for the pair with one resident offering to pay for one of them. Wrose Parish Council has said it will put £2,000 towards the scheme.

The remaining £7,000, eaten up by legal and advertising costs, would be paid by both Shipley Area Committee and Bradford East Area Committee – if they agree – as one of the gates fell into that constituency.”

I find it baffling that, as the article suggests, a capital project of £750 – part-paid by a resident – can mushroom to £9,000. As the land will also surely be developed in time, this is cash thrown into the ether.

You would think there would be a better solution especially as our Council keeps bemoaning how tight money is? Our local MP is on to this and I shall let you know the Council’s latest explanation from their How To Piss Money Down The Drain manual.

One Hundred Years Ago

Tales here of more pointless wartime carnage interspersed with sharp practice on and off the cricket field. Poaching and paying players…whatever next?

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  1. Judith Davies says:

    Excellent. Bradford City Councillors must hate you!

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