Dun Caan from Loch na Mna on Raasay, Scotland ...

Image via Wikipedia

Our politicians, whether they sit in Holyrood or Westminster, will inevitably want to address issues that receive the greatest coverage on the tabloid front pages and the television news. That means issues like knife crime or alcohol fuelled anti-social behaviour are high on the political agenda. They are certainly serious problems that need addressing but often it is forgotten that they are predominantly problems of our inner cities or urban areas.

By rushing to regulate or legislate, our parliamentarians do not think of the unintended consequences their actions will have on our more rural or remoter communities. For example, as the result of the tougher licencing regulations, the isle of Raasay will have nowhere to purchase alcohol from September onwards. The islands post office has decided to end off-licence sales when faced with a massive increase from £80 to £800 to obtain the necessary licence. This is on top of a raft of regulations that require the involvement of solicitors and architects as well as substantial alterations to premises and restrictions on in-store marketing.

Not only will the 150 residents of Raasay be facing a drier existence but the numerous visitors to the island during the tourist season will face a much reduced taste of Highland hospitality. No longer will they be able to pop into the local hotel for a wee dram (they haven’t had a licence for more than a year). Nor will they be able to enjoy a bottle of wine as they gaze at the evening sunset from their self-catering cottage, that is unless they remembered to bring a supply over from the mainland.  It is hardly the image we wish to portray to potential visitors.

The supermarket giants, off-licences and larger convenience stores will have no problem in adhering to the new regulations aimed at solving unruly city-centre drinking. For small rural shops the cost of complying will be prohibitive. There is also a potential, even more damaging, knock-on effect. Many small village shops rely on the revenue generated by selling beer and wine and any decrease in incomes from ending off-sales will lead to more shop closures. Even more pressure will be piled on to small shops when tough tobacco sales regulations are also introduced.

Yet another example of the unintended consequences of coming up with a solution suitable for our cities and towns and not giving a second thought to anyone else.


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]