In what has become a very bad few weeks for Cardiff Council, a magistrates court has ruled that their “saturation zone” policy is unenforceable and has granted Tesco Express, which opened in November 2009, a license to sell alcohol.
This is a victory for common sense in so much as there are currently three outlets already selling beers, wines and spirits within 100 meters of the store that Cardiff Council declined to issue a license to. The off-licenses that are currently trading are small franchises of national names Spar, McColls and Nicolas. The main argument brought forward by Cardiff Council is that people on a night out on St Mary Street are likely to go to Tesco, purchase alcohol more cheaply than at any of the bars on the street, get drunk and cause mayhem. What is stopping them from doing this at any of the current outlets, all of which are selling alcohol at prices no more expensive than Tesco would?
Spar currently have 8 bottles (glass) of Tuborg beer for Â£5.50 or 2 litres of white lightning cider for Â£2.99, a bottle of which contains 15 units of alcohol which is almost 4 times the recommended daily allowance for men. If people want to come to the city centre and get drunk outside of bars by buying from off-licenses, they have the means to already.
Also, Tesco promotes itself as a responsible retailer. I have been asked for ID in Tesco Cardiff Bay on multiple ocassions, and I don’t look under 18. This is the “Think 25” policy in action.
The Lib Dem-Plaid coalition run council have lost their way and are running the city as their own little club. They bulldoze opposition to any plans that they concoct and have a patent disregard for citizens wishes, often refusing to even open a dialogue. The best recent example is the Bute Park Access project, where Cardiff Council had an agenda (to build a road through the historic Bute Park) and were going to fulfil their wishes no matter what or who they had to step on. Planning laws, action groups, whoever. And now the park is a building site and the council will soon have their road and bridge, despite the protests, public meetings and action groups against the work.