Brewers dismiss proposed minimum price plans

Brewers in Staffordshire do not expect to be affected by Government plans to introduce a minimum alcohol price.

Titanic Brewery, which is based in Burslem and owns six pubs in the area, suggest that the price changes will only affect the cheapest alcohol.
David Bott, 53, who runs the brewery with his younger brother Keith, doesn’t expect the Government plans — to introduce a minimum of 40p per unit — to affect his business. Continue reading

Staffordshire Police Show Violence The Red Card

A gritty and thought-provoking 3 minute film produced by Staffordshire Police, shows three dramatised accounts of the violent effects of alcohol: an incident of domestic violence, a violent assault in a pub, and a road traffic collision.

The force has produced the three-minute video about the consequences of drinking too much, being launched today as part of a YouTube and Facebook viral marketing campaign.

Produced by video company, Ember Regis, students and staff from Staffordshire University have assisted in making the film by taking on acting and some technical roles. The university also made its forensic crime scene house in Stoke-on-Trent available for use as a location along with one of its bars. Street sequences were filmed in Tamworth with help from the Neighbourhood Policing Team. The opening images of football supporters were shot at Wembley stadium before the recent England versus Mexico World Cup warm-up match.

Young men aged between 18 and 32 whose Facebook profiles state they live in the force area and are interested in football and drinking are being targeted during the campaign.

ACC Jane Sawyers, force lead on alcohol-related violence, says the force’s main aim is to ensure the tournament passes off without incident. ‘We want people to have a safe and enjoyable World Cup. Our aim is to make sure supporters on nights out in our town centres have a safe and enjoyable evening. Violent crime with injury where the offender was under the influence of drink fell by more than five per cent last year* so we’d like to see that trend continue. We’re hoping to maintain a good-natured atmosphere in our town centres.’

‘The approach we’re adopting is fair, friendly but firm,’ she explained. ‘If people break the law, we will arrest and prosecute.’

‘We have produced the DVD to make people think about the consequences of alcohol-related violence. We chose to include a scene about domestic violence as research has shown that there is an increase in this type of incident immediately before and after the national team plays. Domestic abuse is something we take very seriously and we do our best to prosecute offenders. We will also be visiting and monitoring repeat victims and offenders of this type of crime during the tournament and we will continue to work closely with partners and victims to encourage them to come forward.’

‘We had a lot of help in making the video from staff and students at Staffordshire University and we’re very grateful for their help.’

‘Our viral marketing campaign aims to engage with people who we may not normally reach through traditional press and media. When they log on to Facebook, they’ll be invited to view the DVD, called “ËœEngland Till I Die’. Hopefully, it will make them think twice about the amount of alcohol they drink during the tournament.’

‘Our DVD shows them the possible consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. We want them to drink sensibly so they, and the people around them, stay safe.’

Alcohol is a significant contributor to violence. It played a part in more than 40 per cent of crimes involving violence across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent in the 12 months to April 2010. The force has been working closely with local councils, licensees and other agencies to tackle alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour (ASB) through Operation Safer Nights. This will continue throughout the World Cup and beyond.

On match days high visibility patrols will be out and about to offer reassurance to revellers and residents. There will be sufficient officers on duty to deal with any problems, should they arise.

The Famous Lion Stoke Pub Review

Since opening, The Famous Lion has become a favourable addition to Stoke City Centre’s sparse pub scene.

It is a fine example of a modern pub and a sharp contrast to The Wheatsheaf Wetherspoon across the road.

This former furniture shop has a smart exterior, whilst a spacious bar area welcomes you with its comfortable leather couches and non deafening plasma screen. The interior is contemporary, innovative and extremely well kept with plenty of distinctive touches. Whether it be the themed artwork, unusual fireplace, or stained lion head glass windows, a great deal of endeavour has gone in to creating a unique experience. To the side, the bar expands in to a surprisingly sizable drinking and dining area with a pleasant beer garden at the rear. Comfortable, rather than spectacular, it’s impressive how the space has been utilised. Although a lengthy distance involving a steep staircase, the toilets befit the commendable effort elsewhere.

Customers were a little short in numbers during the review period, although we’re reliably informed that the weekend discos are popular. Suits from the local offices frequent on weekday lunchtimes, although it was concerning being the only customers there during Saturday lunchtime. Maybe it was owing to the food, which is unremarkable pub fare, being non existent due to illness. Reputable punters create a livelier atmosphere in the evening. Thankfully this isn’t the kind of venue to attract mindless ruffians so don’t expect youths downing shots and flirting outrageously as a predominantly middle aged crowd gather.

The beer on offer was the one significant cause of disgruntlement. The sight of three handpumps is encouraging but during our visits only one was in use. The fact that the ale available is a changing guest offers some consolation but the dissatisfaction lies with the unused handpumps by its side. The lack of ale leaves you with no alternatives other than identikit lagers or bland spirits.

The Famous Lion exceeds expectations and is thoroughly worth a visit. It’s vastly superior to many of the other City centre’s offerings and deserves respect for it’s sophisticated appearance and ambience. As mentioned, it’s a sharp contrast to its nearest competition in The Wheatsheaf and Last Orders, and we urge you to give it a try.

Ratings

Drink – **
Atmosphere – ***1/2
Surroundings – ****
Staff – ***

The Talbot Stoke Pub Review

Upon mentioning I was popping to the Last Orders, I was met with a furrowed brow. A reputation preceded it as a soulless pub with no ale. Upon approach, my expectations rose as I observed that its designation had transformed since my last visit, the month previous. Last Orders had indeed been served, and the pub has reverted to its former guise as The Talbot, a pub with a reputation as a lively music venue. Indeed, the situation has improved, although not significantly so.

Witness the exterior and The Talbot gives the impression of being a small traditional pub. However, once inside, an unexpectedly long and well-lit bar room greets you. Bright, clean and airy, it creates a decent first impression. The recent renovation has resulted in spruced up tables and chairs (Wetherspoon take note), and a shiny wooden flooring that matches the wooden bar. Photographs of football and boxing greats are strategically hung by the operational pool table at the rear.

The multitude of Plasma screens display the accustomed pub favourites, Sky Sports News and At The Races. This most appropriately represents the type of punter to be found. They’re an unreserved bunch who frequent the pub as regulars. There may not be an air of sophistication, but instead, plenty of friendly banter and background chatter

The perky bar staff are just as willing to serve newcomers as they are the aforementioned locals. This is a notable step up on the dour hospitality witnessed on previous outings to the Last Orders. Service with a genuine smile is forever valued, and although regulars are greeted by name, you won’t feel unwelcome.

Peer past the warm greeting and your face will likely drop, as a glance at what’s on offer stirs up levels of huge despair. John Smiths, Fosters and Carlsberg are all served in their “Ëœextra cold’ varieties as does the obligatory cheap cider, Strongbow. And that is it, no alternatives served at room temperature, and no Guinness, extra cold or otherwise. Outstanding for the Sahara desert, alas not a below freezing Stoke-on-Trent. Spirits are as similarly low-grade and unremarkable, although indisputably warmer! One can tolerate a pub without real ale and specialist liquor, yet the lack of options on offer here is rather frightful.

Bar this serious flaw, there’s not a great deal amiss with the Talbot. The introduction of some inspiring ale would obviously improve matters. However, not having too much awry doesn’t create a sterling pub, just a very mediocre one. With better alternatives situated not too far away, The Talbot may struggle to attract new punters.

Ratings

Drink – *
Atmosphere – **
Surroundings – **1/2
Staff – ***

The Market Tavern Hanley Pub Review

Having left the Market Tavern a tad discontented after my first visit there two years ago it was with some trepidation that I approached this review. With its classic facade, traditionally engraved windows, and promise of a decent pint of Bass from the latest Potter’s Bar, I held some hope that the situation had improved. Regrettably, I was to be left disappointed.

On approach, the well maintained exterior hints at the history of the pub last rebuilt in 1892. Once inside, the wooden decking, historic images of Hanley, and quirky antique rifles suggests that The Market Tavern could offer a rare and hospitable experience oft missing from the bustling City Centre. However, scrutinise the initial impressions and they prove to be misleading, as the pub exposes itself to be a wasted opportunity.

Head inside, past the pleasant narrow bar, and a drab back end, featuring a Chav central pool room with an unsightly open kitchen area, makes itself apparent. An unnecessarily large sign advertises all live sports as being shown on a massive screen. Despite the promise the stereotypical plasma was switched off whilst Sky Sports News beamed out on a tiny television in the corner. The Market Tavern appears to harbor an excessive fascination with mirrors. Ones bearing their name are littered around the walls. Although such pub traditions are ordinarily valued, their sheer number and fact that many have drinks advertisements plastered on, negates this point.

If the environment’s a slightly mixed bag, the beer situation can only be described as a shambles. Three handpumps stood unused with no sign of the promised Bass. Instead, John Smiths Smoothflow, Guinness and a couple of bland lagers represent the only options, a truly limited and saddening choice. Stowells also appears on tap, a wine not blessed with any merit, and presumably takes the place of any ciders. Drink offers seem to be relatively regular but as Wetherspoon is located across the way there’s cheaper pricing elsewhere.

The clientele seemed to consist mainly of regulars. Loud and lively, they create a decent atmosphere. However, a few punters of dubious nature seem to frequent the place and although peaceful on our visit, they may become boorish at other times. The necessity to have warnings over drug use actually painted on the wall demonstrates this concern. The one regular who had the freedom and attention of the whole floor was the enormous, but amiable, dog.

Hanley has too few cosy real ale pubs and to discover The Market Tavern still isn’t one of them was distressing. With the appropriate management this could develop in to a welcome haven amongst the busy shops surrounding it. Instead, it’s a major let down and offers no competition to The Unicorn or The Coachmakers Arms.

Ratings

Drink – *
Atmosphere – **
Surroundings – **1/2
Staff – **1/2

Post Office Vaults Burslem Pub Review

Upon approach a well maintained frontage with eye-catching hanging baskets and classically engraved windows welcomes the uninitiated, oblivious to the delights inside. Step inside and be welcomed by the convivial and attentive staff as you become accustomed to the tiny, but homely, single roomed bar. However, this undoubtedly is a diminutive pub so don’t expect to be blessed with a guaranteed seat to park your posterior. A wait at the bar can at busier periods be expected but the aforementioned staff are thankfully experienced in the art of determining the correct order of service.

In accordance with a great number of pubs in Burslem town centre this is an ideal place for ale enthusiasts as the beer is a particular highlight. Six hand-pumps occupy the bar of which three are guests. These are replaced regularly, rich in flavour and hail from a wide range of microbreweries. Of the regulars are Greene King Abbot and the less familiar Jaipur IPA from Thornbridge, a hugely quaffable drink even at 5.9%. Nothing else jumps out regarding any of the other beverages on offer but with such finely kept ale it’s unlikely you need look. As for food, with this being such a small pub don’t expect anything other than a bag of nuts

The bar is eclectically furnished with a post box and stamp machine furthering the post office theme alluded to by the twin red post boxes either side of the entrance. It can be fascinating searching for the Post Office themed knick knacks as they are not obvious nor over bearing. Dominating mirrors adorn the walls whilst three good sized televisions display all manner of live sports and music. Toilets may be cramped but require no update as they retain the period feel whilst a reasonably sized heated smoking area brings up the rear.

The clientele are a good natured bunch and help contribute to the hospitable mentality of the pub. However, the pub can become contracted with only a few people in especially before and after Port Vale home games (home fans only) often creating a lively, but amiable, atmosphere. Indeed, as is its prime location in the centre of Burslem it is more than likely popular most nights.

As with many of Burslem’s alehouses The Post Office Vaults comes enthusiastically endorsed. Impressive beer and a uniquely themed experience allow this to live long in the memory. Forget the small size and instead revel in it’s huge character and we’re certain you’ll return.

Ratings

Drink – ****
Atmosphere – ****
Surroundings – ****
Staff – ****

Christmas Drink Driving Campaign – 177 Arrested

A targeted campaign over Christmas and New Year aimed at getting drink-drivers off Staffordshire’s roads resulted in 177 arrests.

Staffordshire Police carried out 2,132 roadside breath tests between the 1 December 2009 and the 1 January 2010, resulting in a positive test rate of
8.2 per cent.

In all, some 5,000 vehicles were stopped ““ in addition to tests carried out at road traffic collisions.
The number of drivers breath-tested rose from last December’s figure of 1,832, when there were 80 people arrested (4.4 per cent) after being found to be over the legal limit.

Les Dyble, Traffic Management Officer for Staffordshire Police, said: “The number of vehicles stopped as part of this campaign reminded the public that we are serious about tackling drink-driving and the devastating affects it has on society.

“The public’s response to this more targeted enforcement has been very supportive. However the number of positive tests at the roadside is disappointing.

“Not all those drivers arrested during this campaign will end up in court; some would more than likely pass the second, evidential test at the police station.

“However, being arrested at the roadside, being taken to a police station and leaving passengers wondering how they were getting home will hopefully have
a lasting effect on those drivers.”

The force will continue to carry out breath test enforcement in this targeted manner throughout the year. The message is “ËœDon’t Drink and Drive’.

Christmas Drink & Drug Driving Campaign Begins

The annual campaign to target drink and drug drivers in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire has begun in a bid to cut fatal and serious road traffic collisions and protect other road users.

In last years campaign in Stoke-on-Trent officers recorded 21 positive breath tests out of a total of the 442 they carried out. This was a slight improvement on 2007/08 which saw 452 tests carried out, and 24 proving positive. It is hoped that this years campaign will see a further reduction in positive tests.

Les Dyble, Staffordshire Police’s Traffic Management Officer, said: “Police officers will carry out random road-side stop-checks on vehicles and their drivers during the campaign. Any driver that an officer suspects has consumed alcohol or drugs or has committed a moving traffic offence will be required to provide a road-side breath test for analysis. Motorists involved in road traffic collisions are also breath-tested as a matter of routine."

“People going out for a drink with friends or family, or even staying at home and having a drink but driving the next morning, should think of the consequences of drink driving. You should always ensure you are fit to drive. The more alcohol you consume the longer it takes to clear your body. Remember, you can’t calculate your own alcohol level, but the police can.”

Driving while under the influence of drink or drugs is dangerous, against the law and has short and long term consequences:

  • when you are caught you will be breath tested and, if positive, arrested
  • you will be taken to a police station and if the station test is positive, or you fail or refuse to provide a blood or urine sample, you will be charged
  • you will attend court and if found guilty, be banned from driving for at least 12 months. You will have to pay a hefty fine, court costs and may be given a prison sentence.

What happens next?

  • losing your licence may mean losing your job and your standard of living
  • you will lose the respect of friends and family and you will have a criminal record
  • you may be banned from travelling to some countries. When you can drive again you will pay a lot more for insurance cover.

If someone is seriously injured or killed as a result of your involvement in a road traffic collision, you could be charged with a more serious offence. The consequences of this could mean:

  • your driving ban will be longer
  • your fine will be bigger
  • you are more likely to go to prison
  • great trauma for the victims and families of those killed or seriously injured which will stay with you and them for the rest of their lives

Mr Dyble added: “You already know the consequences; you’ve read the Highway Code and passed your driving test. You should know that the law applies to you."

“Remember, drinking and drug driving is anti social, against the law and wrecks lives and families. The family could be yours."

“Is drink or drug driving worth the risk of these consequences?”

£100 Million being spent on anti binge drinking campaign

By Mike Rawlins

The UKs biggest “biggest ever” responsible drinking campaign launches today.

Drinkaware the charity which if voluntarily funded by the drinks industry has today launched a 5 year £100 million pound advertising campaign to encourage 18-24 year olds to evaluate their drinking habits and in the long term, change the social acceptability of drunkenness.

The campaign is launched alongside new research from Drinkaware which shows that one in three young adults (32%) claims they don’t need advice about alcohol(1). This is despite the fact that in the last twelve months, almost one in four (23%) have been ashamed of their appearance when drunk, 25% have not known how they got home, nearly one third (31%) have blacked out, one in 10 (9%) have been in a fight and just under half (48%) have vomited due to drinking too much.

Chris Sorek, Chief Executive of Drinkaware

Chris Sorek

Chris Sorek, Chief Executive of Drinkaware, says: “When people are drinking and having fun it can be easy to get carried away and not recognise the point when a good night can take a turn for the worse.  Changing the drinking culture in Britain won’t happen overnight, but with the right support, information and advice, young adults can change their own drinking patterns.

Some young adults think they know all there is to know about alcohol, but simple tips like eating before going out drinking, pacing yourself with water or soft drinks, looking after your mates and planning your journey home, can help them stay safe and prevent their good times going bad.

The financial and social impact of alcohol misuse affects everyone. Parents, teachers, health professionals, charities, the drinks industry and central and local governments all have a part to play in reducing the harm caused to young people by alcohol misuse.”

The Campaign for Smarter Drinking is funded by the drinks industry and run in partnership with Government. The biggest ever responsible drinking campaign will present young adults with practical tips to help them curb the ill effects of their drinking: eating a meal; drinking water or soft drinks between alcoholic drinks; looking after mates and planning your journey home.  Other campaign features include:

  • One in two UK phone boxes showing one of four campaign posters
  • Staff in pubs, off licences and supermarkets up and down the country educated in alcohol awareness.

Each year, alcohol misuse for all ages costs society the NHS around £2.7 billion, although the wider cost to society including crime and disorder, social and family breakdown and sickness absence is estimated at closer to £25.1 billion(2).  Binge drinking among adults under 25 is of particular concern with nearly 50,000 16-24 year olds admitted to hospital in England and Wales in 2007/08 due to alcohol related causes(3).  New research from Drinkaware shows three in 10 18-24 year olds (30%) drinks to get drunk when they go out.

Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for the Home Office, says: “Alcohol-related violent crime has fallen by a third since 1997, but no-one is suggesting the job is done. We must educate our young people that binge drinking is socially unacceptable and can have grave consequences. This is not just the responsibility of the Government, but for us all, and that is why I am pleased the drinks industry is making this commitment.

We are determined to tackle alcohol fuelled crime and disorder which damages our communities, ruins lives and costs the UK economy billions each year in police and hospital resources.  Â Police now have more tools and powers to tackle disruptive drinkers and we are consulting on new rules to ensure businesses that sell alcohol are doing so responsibly.”

Andy Burnham, Secretary of State for Health, said: “The majority of people drink responsibly but for too many alcohol has become a serious health problem.  The alcohol industry has a big responsibility to tackle excessive drinking and there are many things we can do, by working together, to promote a healthy attitude to alcohol. This campaign is a good step forward – I hope it will help to change attitudes.”

A Drinkaware report, “ËœWhy let good times go bad? Tackling binge drinking among British 18-24 year olds’, also shows that:

  • 55% don’t keep track of how much they’re drinking when they’re out;
  • 46% don’t drink water or soft drinks to pace themselves when they’re out drinking;
  • Over a third (34%) drink nine or more units when drinking socially ““ for both men and women this is more than double the daily unit guidelines. 18-24 year olds drink more units in an average session compared to any other age group(4);
  • More than three quarters (77%) don’t like it when their friends get too drunk and end up being a burden.

Throughout the campaign, Drinkaware will work with major employers, social networks, clubs and colleges to deliver messages to young people.
1. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2036 18-24 year olds in Great Britain. Fieldwork was undertaken between 31st July ““ 3rd August 2009.  The survey was carried out online.
2. Cabinet Office, 2008.
3. NHS Information Centre (2009) Statistics on Alcohol: England, 2009
4. Mintel Oxygen, Binge Drinking, Special Report, June 2009