Published on June 19th, 2013 | by Dean Carr
Scottish Tesco store drawn into the strong alcohol debate
The supermarket giant Tesco has agreed not to sell higher strength beers and ciders in one of its Scottish stores.
Under this policy, the ban of the sale of ‘Buckfast’ tonic wine at the store has already been announced.
It is reported that Tesco have agreed to this condition in order to secure licensing approval from West Dunbartonshire Council for its Hardgate store, near Clydebank. The condition applies to a supermarket in Hardgate, and applies to beers, ciders and caffeinated alcoholic drinks with an alcohol-by-volume strength greater than 5.5%.
Since 2010, West Dunbartonshire Council has had one of the toughest alcohol licensing policies in the United Kingdom, and limits the number of new licenses that it issues in order to reduce the ‘overprovision’ of sales outlets. This remains a controversial policy as promises were made by ministers during the inception of the Licensing Act 2003 that new licences would not be held back on the grounds of the number of nearby establishments. By contrast, obtaining an alcohol licence in Northern Ireland is specifically influenced by the number of other establishments already selling alcohol.
For now, the debate remains centred around the potential losses faced by microbrewers in the area if this kind of policy is set to spread in Scotland. This weekend, The Herald reported opposition to the Tesco announcement within the brewing industry, highlighting their questions as to why a high strength beer should be removed from store shelves while wine remains.