Published on August 24th, 2012 | by Dean Carr
Landlord outwits pub licensing laws by asking customers to buy beer mats
Drinkers are flocking to a bar that doesn’t need a licence because it doesn’t charge its customers. Although anyone can drink for nothing between midday and 11.45pm, customers are encouraged to look around the shop and buy £2.75 beer mats instead of paying for alcohol.
Simon Atkinson said he had started a “retail revolution” in opening the Innsatiable bar and furniture shop in Farnham, Surrey, last month. He plans to open branches in Winchester and Guildford soon and 13 other outlets next year.
Local police and the council are so far powerless to act because licensing laws only apply to premises where alcohol is being sold. A spokesman for Waverley council said: “Should information come to light that the Licensing Act 2003 is being breached Waverley borough council will take appropriate action.”
Mr Atkinson failed to respond to repeated requests for comment from the Standard, but told the publicans’ Morning Advertiser newspaper: “The bee in everyone’s bonnet is that we are offering free alcoholic drinks from a free bar. Everyone who comes in thinks it is a great idea — my staff are very welcoming.” The Innsatiable blog site claims that it is sparking a “retail revolution” and is “a community led movement giving you real value and real choice over how much you want to pay for a night out”.
Followers of the bar’s Twitter page have posted comments about “awesome” nights, but local landlords said they were concerned that it could promote binge drinking and lead to a rise in alcohol-fuelled violence. Don Laight, landlord of The Jolly Sailor and chairman of the local Pubwatch voluntary group which promotes safer drinking, said: “This guy has found a loophole in the licensing laws and there’s not much anyone can do about it at the moment. “It’s really affecting some of the pubs in the centre of the town because there’s no way they can compete, and it’s going to get worse when the students come back to university. As you can imagine they’ll be around it like it’s a honeypot.”
Source: London Evening Standard